UK Govt set to derail Holyrood ‘sex-swap’ law

The Scotland Secretary has announced the UK Government’s decision to block Holyrood’s gender self-ID Bill on constitutional grounds.

Exercising powers under the Scotland Act 1998, Alister Jack MP made an order last night prohibiting the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament from submitting the Bill for Royal Assent.

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

‘Adverse impact’

Jack announced: “After thorough and careful consideration of all the relevant advice and the policy implications, I am concerned that this legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation.”

In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Jack said that the Bill risked “creating significant complications from having two different gender recognition regimes in the UK”, including “allowing more fraudulent bad faith applications”.

The Secretary of State raised particular concerns about the implications of the Bill’s provisions permitting “16 and 17 year olds to change their legal sex”.

Responding to the announcement, Sturgeon accused Westminster of launching “a full-frontal attack” on Holyrood and said the Scottish Government would “defend the legislation”.

Reserved matter

The announcement has been expected for days. Last week, the Prime Minister said he was “concerned” about the “impacts across the UK” of the legislation, and added that “once the Government has received final advice it will set out next steps”.

The Rt Hon the Lord Keen of Elie PC KC, a former Advocate General for Scotland, had previously urged Downing Street to block Holyrood’s gender self-ID Bill because of its impact on the rest of the UK.

Writing in the foreword of a report by Policy Exchange, Lord Keen said Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform cut across the Equality Act 2010 which “clearly addresses issues reserved to the UK Government”.

Lord Keen stated: “It would not only be impractical but constitutionally improper for the UK Government to permit a devolved legislature to enact a provision that had a material impact upon the operation of the law throughout the United Kingdom.”


Ahead of the announcement, Conservative vice-chairwoman Rachel Maclean MP told the BBC that allowing gender self-ID would create “a huge number of consequences” across the UK’s whole “protection framework”.

She also said that it risked compromising the safety of “vulnerable women and girls” and would have an enormous impact on “our understanding” of what it means “to be a man or a woman”.

Also see:


SNP minister likens ‘sex swaps’ law to fighting apartheid

‘Trans propaganda helped destroy my life’ says detransitioning US Navy SEAL

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

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