The Cabinet Secretary for Equalities, Shirley-Anne Somerville, has confirmed the Scottish Government intend to push ahead with planned changes to the gender recognition laws in Scotland.
In a response to questions in Holyrood today from Scottish Greens MSP Patrick Harvie, the Cabinet Secretary said the Government are “strongly committed to maintaining and advancing trans rights and equality” and that “trans people are not a threat, they never have been and never will be.”
She also said the 15,500 responses to the Scottish Government’s gender reform consultation were being given honest scrutiny and due diligence before plans are progressed, although no timescale was confirmed, and suggested that all stakeholders need to work together to provide solutions that reassure those with concerns.
The Cabinet Secretary told Parliament:
“There is an imperative on all of us to ensure this debate is carried out in the right manner, with respect, recognising different opinion, but ensuring that we do so with the foundation of trans inclusivity and that trans rights are respected along with other peoples rights in our community.”
“Trans people are not a threat, they never have been, they never will be, but it is important that we listen to people who have concerns, to reassure them to ensure that we are doing everything that we can to work through those concerns, that is why I am ensuring I go through a process of due diligence to understand the concerns that are our there and to work with people to find solutions. If we are committed to ensuring that everyone in Scotland is respected and have a place in our society, then we all have a responsibility to come forward with solutions about how we do that in a respectful manner.”
Joan McAlpine MSP, who has gained notoriety recently for her criticism of self-declaration, especially on Twitter, added:
“Nothing in the SNP manifesto in 2016 said that males with male bodies, including male genitals, should be able to declare themselves as female without any medical or psychological assessment or safeguarding. Trans people are not a threat, it is men who are a threat because men commit 97% of sexual crimes, so what evidence does the Govt have that males who self-declare themselves as female no longer offend at male rates.”
Shirley-Anne Somerville was direct in her response to the SNP MSP, offering a reassurance that any abuse of the self-declaration system would be met with ‘serious consequences’:
“This Govt is absolutely committed to move forward with the gender recognition laws and it’s important that we do that in the right manner. Its important that we ensure that the process that is here at the moment does change, that we listen to the concerns people have, but we also recognise that what the Government is proposing is something that would be a solemn declaration, made in front of a notary public, that would have very serious consequences if broken.”
Organisations including Stonewall Scotland and Equality Network have welcomed the Cabinet Secretary’s comments today and the commitment from the Scottish Government to reform gender recognition laws.