SNP minister likens ‘sex swaps’ law to fighting apartheid

An SNP Cabinet minister has evoked disbelief after likening his party’s push to make legal sex changes easier to the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

On 22 December last year, MSPs voted in favour of a new law which would allow 16-year-olds to change their legal sex by self-declaration without a medical diagnosis.

In an op-ed for the Edinburgh News, Angus Robertson, the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, quoted Nelson Mandela, who said “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”. The minister then added: “I fervently believe the parliament and the people of Scotland have taken one more step in doing just that”.

Endangering women

Robertson, who was the SNP’s leader in the House of Commons until 2017 and became MSP for Edinburgh Central in 2021, celebrated Holyrood’s decision to allow men to declare that they are women “without having to justify themselves to a panel of people whom they have never met”.

While MSPs voted to approve the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, the proposals were strongly opposed by the public, around two-thirds of which had indicated they were against the plans.

The fiercest opposition came from women’s rights campaigners, who said the legislation endangered women and girls by allowing unscrupulous males to gain access to female-only spaces via self-declaration.

‘An absurd parallel’

Robertson’s comparison was met with derision from politicians and political commentators alike, with a spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives saying: “This is an absurd parallel for Angus Robertson to draw”.

“The majority of Scots oppose this legislation precisely because it curtails the freedom of women and girls by risking their safety and security.”

Former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said: “To state the obvious, the pomposity is risible. But quoting Mandela is offensive. Women’s views on the danger of predatory men dismissed; sex offenders’ ability to self-identify into women’s prisons prioritised; women survivors of sexual abuse not heard. Nothing to be proud of there.”

The Scottish National Party railroad through all this awful legislation and the Gender Reform Bill isn’t the first one

His comments were also criticised by campaign group For Women Scotland, which said: “Last week it was a minor admin change. This week, Angus thinks he’s up there with Mandela and has done the equivalent of ending apartheid.”

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‘So many loopholes’

In a segment on GB News, presenter Simon Evans commented: “I think these people genuinely do wish they had something of the monstrous dimensions of apartheid to be grappling with and they haven’t.”

Panelist Leo Kearse agreed, noting: “the Scottish National Party railroad through all this terrible legislation – the Gender Reform Bill isn’t the first one.

“There’s the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, which was repealed, there’s the Named Persons Bill, which actually made children the property of the state rather than parents, it’s absolutely insane. There’s the Hate Crime Bill obviously which has gone through which hasn’t been repealed like the other two but hopefully will be at some point.

“And this is so badly worded, the Gender Reform Bill, it’s got so many loopholes that would allow bad men – when let’s face it, most of us are bad – to exploit, to commit crimes, or to cover up crimes. It is horrific.”

Dundee carers’ group

The SNP’s determination to push so strongly for the legislation was not well received by the Scottish public, and prior to the final vote, a support group for carers in Dundee handed back money given to it by SNP Justice Secretary Shona Robison.

Robison had helped raise over £300 for Glenlaw House Carers’ Support Group at a coffee morning in December 2018, but the group has now returned the money in protest over the legislation.

The charity says allowing men to self-identify their legal sex will endanger women and girls.

A spokesman for the group said: “We are extremely concerned for the safety of our children, especially once they move into adult services. Then if they are in hospital, we can’t spend the night with them. There is the possibility of a man being on a single-sex ward if they self-ID as female.”

Also see:

MPs: ‘Dangerous’ gender reform Bill should be scrapped

Scotland: MSPs vote to approve legal sex-swaps for kids

Holyrood veterans fear ‘sex swap’ Bill risks licensing abuse of women

Two-thirds of Scots oppose Scot Govt’s gender self-ID Bill

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