Churches and religious groups will be plunged into fear and confusion if Scotland adopts a transsexual-rights Bill currently being debated at Westminster.
The Gender Recognition Bill allows a man to become a woman in law and then to marry another man. The Bill opens the door to legal action against any church that does not recognise a male transsexual as a woman. Church Ministers could also face legal action for refusing to conduct transsexual marriages or for refusing to allow a male transsexual access to the ladies’ lavatory.
Sporting bodies have been given sweeping exemptions from the Bill, but religious bodies have not.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), Holyrood’s Justice 1 Committee will consider Westminster’s Bill. A ‘Sewel motion’ on the Bill, which will opt Scotland into the legislation, is expected in the Scottish Parliament next week (4 or 5 February).
Under the Bill:
Church ministers, elders and religious employers face a £5,000 fine if they disclose to other people a transsexual’s true sex. It becomes a criminal offence to tell the truth about a persons’ sex.
A man (or a woman) can apply to an official body to change their sex in law. They will then receive a new birth certificate.
One biological man can marry another biological man if one of them is a transsexual recognised under the legislation.
A church minister has no right to know a person’s true sex, and so could unwittingly marry two people of the same biological sex.
The Church of Scotland is particularly at risk from this Bill, because of its special legal status.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said:
“This Bill leaves churches wide open to legal action by transsexuals. Sporting bodies have been given sweeping protections to stop a transsexual man entering women’s competitions, but religious bodies have been ignored.
If MSPs vote for this Bill, they are voting to allow two biological men to be able to marry in Scotland. By supporting this Bill MSPs will be putting religious liberty in Scotland at great risk.”
Notes for Editors:
The legal problems for Churches stem from the fact that a church carries out certain public functions (such as marriages). For the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998 a church could be deemed to be a public body and therefore sued under the Act.
Transsexuals are biologically normal, but believe themselves to be ‘trapped in the wrong body’.
Transsexuals are different from ‘inter-sex’ individuals, whose sexual organs are ambiguous at birth (this is virtually unknown – one study shows fewer than 4 cases per year worldwide). In contrast a transsexual’s body is perfectly normal.
A transsexual man will have XY chromosomes just like other men.
Transsexualism is rare amongst men and even rarer in women. In the NHS year 2001/02 there were 89 ‘sex change’ operations performed, all of them on men.
Transsexualism is a psychological, not a physical condition. The evidence for this is overwhelming.
According to the Home Office, “Many people revert to their biological sex after living for some time in the opposite sex…”
Some ‘sex change’ surgery and hormone treatment can look extremely convincing.
The Christian Institute has helped Churches defend themselves from threats of litigation by transsexuals.
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