Statement on the UK Government’s decision to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (Scotland)
We are pleased that both the Labour Party Leader, Keir Starmer and Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Anneliese Dodds have voiced concern regarding the substance of the GRR Bill. We urge them to meet with ourselves and Labour Women’s Declaration regarding policy development that does not compromise equality for girls and women.
Judith Green WPUK
We fully support the use of Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland, preventing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (Scotland) from proceeding to Royal Assent. The Scotland Act sets out the power to intervene if a Bill contains provisions:
Make modifications of the law as it applies to reserved matters and which the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have an adverse effect on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters’ 
The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill clearly makes modifications to the population eligible to apply for a GRC and apply to change legal sex for the purposes of the 2010 Equality Act.
This now much larger and more diverse population group would include young people between the ages of 16 and 18, people who identify as the opposite sex but have no medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and an estimated tenfold increase in numbers eligible for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). A change of legal sex by way of a GRC unlocks services and provisions set out in the Equality Act designed for the opposite sex.
This has recently been clarified by Lady Haldane who ruled in relation to the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 that:
In this context, which is the meaning of sex for the purposes of the 2010 Act, “sex” is not limited to biological or birth sex, but includes those in possession of a GRC. 
You can read our statement on the Haldane ruling here.
It is our view therefore that the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill will have an adverse effect on the operation of the 2010 Equality Act and the right to non-discrimination against, and equal opportunities for, girls and women, on the basis of sex. In this situation it is vital that the UK government takes action to ensure protections for girls and women in Scotland, and the rest of the UK, as set out in the Equality Act are not compromised.
We are concerned about the Scottish Parliament’s system of representative democracy given that the majority of the Scottish electorate do not support the key pillars of the GRR Bill. A recent YouGov poll  on behalf of the Times and Sunday Times found 60% opposed removing the requirement for a doctor’s diagnosis, 59% opposed reducing the time applicants must have lived in their ‘acquired gender’ and 66% opposed reducing the minimum age a person can apply for a gender recognition certificate.
The Labour Party and the trade union movement have historically supported non-discrimination against and equal opportunities for girls and women on the basis of sex. Both the 1998 Scotland Act and the 2010 Equality Act are Labour achievements and we applaud the use of the former in defence of the latter.
We applaud the two Scottish Labour MSPs, Carol Mochan and Claire Baker who voted against the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, but we are dismayed to see some Scottish Labour MSPs voting for this Bill. This, despite the defeat of amendments which would have clarified that a Scottish GRC would not change a person’s sex under the Equality Act.
We are pleased that both the Labour Party Leader, Keir Starmer  and Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Anneliese Dodds  have voiced concern regarding the substance of the GRR Bill. We urge them to meet with ourselves and Labour Women’s Declaration regarding policy development that does not compromise equality for girls and women.
 Scotland Act 1998  Haldane Ruling  Two thirds of voters oppose SNP’s gender reform plans | Scotland | The Times  Keir Starmer raises ‘concerns’ about Scotland’s controversial gender law | The Scotsman  GRR Bill – Using Labour’s Scotland Act in Defence of Labour’s Equality Act
We believe that it is important to share a range of viewpoints on women’s rights and advancement from different perspectives. WPUK does not necessarily agree or endorse all the views that we share.