Judge permits Scot Govt to redefine ‘woman’

The Scottish Government can adopt a redefinition of “woman” to include men who identify as female, a judge has ruled.

Court of Session judge Lady Wise stated that the Government was legally permitted to class men as female in a law designed to address the number of women on public boards.

For Women Scotland (FWS) had launched a judicial review of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 last year.


The women’s rights group said “it will come as a shock to many women in Scotland that the Scottish Government can redefine what it means to be a woman in law, so that it is little more than a name on a utilities bill”.

Although Lady Wise stated that “the case does not form part of the policy debate about transgender rights”, FWS said it is “concerned about the potential implications beyond Scotland”.

The group added that the legislation’s wording “cannot be allowed to stand”, and that it will be consulting its lawyers.


Earlier this month, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) abandoned its appeal against a High Court ruling ordering it to correct its guidance on what constituted biological sex in the 2021 census.

Mr Justice Swift said respondents should only use their birth certificate or Gender Recognition Certificate to answer the question “What is your sex?”, and ordered the statistical agency to remove the words “such as” and “passport” from its guidelines.

Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Fair Play For Women, which brought the legal action, said: “This is not a problem confined to the ONS. The idea that sex isn’t just a matter of being born female or male, and that we all have a gender identity, has become embedded within organisations.”

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