‘Scottish Labour pushed its MSPs to vote for gender self-ID Bill against their conscience’

The majority of Scottish Labour opposed the Scottish Government’s gender self-ID Bill but were whipped into silence, it has been reported.

The New Statesman’s Scotland editor, Chris Deerin, said he spoke to a Shadow Cabinet Minister before the vote who claimed the majority of the party felt it was against their conscience to vote for the legislation, but they were afraid to defy the party whip.

When Deerin told the anonymous minister “you could always do what you believe to be the right thing”, they reportedly replied: “There’s always that”.


The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which has been blocked by Westminster, would have allowed 16-year-olds to change their legal sex by self-declaration without a medical diagnosis.

afraid to defy the party whip

When the Bill was passed by Holyrood in December, 18 Scottish Labour MSPs voted in favour with only two – Carol Mochan and Claire Baker – against.

Deerin said it “would also have been much better” if the Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar had “given his MSPs a free vote on the bill, so they could all follow their consciences”.

Sarwar voted for the Bill, despite saying later that it was important to “maintain the protections of single-sex spaces”.


Last month, Sir Keir Starmer raised concerns that 16 is too young to change legal sex.

Speaking on BBC1’s ‘Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg’, ahead of Westminster’s vote to block the Scottish Government’s gender self-ID Bill, the UK Labour leader said that although he backs making it easier to change legal sex, he feels 16 is not old enough to make the decision.

Starmer voiced “concerns” about the potential impact on UK-wide equalities law but did not vote on the decision to block the Bill.

Also see:


Sturgeon: ‘Critics of our gender self-ID Bill are anti-women and racist’

Nandy backs legal ‘sex swaps’ for 13-year-olds

Trans activists promote ‘decapitation’ of gender critical women

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