The Scottish Government will not appeal a court ruling backing Westminster’s decision to veto its highly controversial gender self-ID Bill.
In a statement to Holyrood, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice Shirley-Anne Somerville acknowledged that the Scottish Secretary’s intervention under Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 means the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill “cannot proceed to royal assent”.
But Somerville said the proposals remain Scottish Government policy and will not be withdrawn. Instead, she outlined its plan to work with an “incoming UK Government” so the “section 35 order can be lifted and the bill can progress”.
‘Waste of money’
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack welcomed the Scottish Government’s “acceptance of the court’s judgment, which upheld my decision to prevent their gender recognition legislation from becoming law”.
the worst legislation in the history of devolution
But he said: “The Scottish Government chose to pursue this litigation in spite of the cost to the taxpayer. These resources would have been better spent addressing the priorities of people in Scotland”.
Writing on X, former First Minister Alex Salmond commented: “Self-identification was the worst legislation in the history of devolution. It divided the country, weakened the political process and alienated much of the women’s movement from their own parliament.”
SNP defector Ash Regan, who resigned as Minister for Community Safety so she could vote against the Bill, said “what I would like to see is that this legislation is withdrawn and I would like to see the Scottish government say they will never implement this bill”.
Earlier this month, Scotland’s Outer House of the Court of Session ruled that Mr Jack ‘reasonably and lawfully’ blocked the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in order to protect the integrity of UK-wide equalities legislation.
During the Court of Session hearing in September, the UK Government said the Lord Advocate for Scotland’s claim that the veto was based on a “policy disagreement” was a “red herring”.
Lady Haldane upheld the Westminster Government’s argument, stating that the court found “no reference, direct or indirect” that “a policy disagreement lay behind the making of the Order”.
The proposals, which MSPs approved by 86 to 39 votes last December, sought to allow 16-year-olds to change their legal sex by self-declaration without a medical diagnosis, and reduce the waiting time for adults from two years to just three months.