January 28, 2023

LONDON: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday it is “completely reasonable” for the UK government to review a newly passed gender recognition law in Scotland, putting it on a possible collision course with Edinburgh.
The controversial legislation – passed by the devolved Scottish Parliament on Thursday – will make it easier and faster for people to officially change their gender, removing the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
The potential move to prevent the law from taking effect could inflame already tense relations with Scotland’s regional government, following the stymied efforts by the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) to hold an independence referendum.
“I think a lot of people are concerned about this new law in Scotland, about the impact it will have on the safety of women and children,” Sunak told British news outlets.
“So I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the UK government to look at it, understand the implications for the safety of women and children in the rest of the UK and then decide what the right course of action is.”
Under devolution rules that led to the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, London can block legislation if ministers believe it conflicts with UK law.
But that power has never been handed over by successive British governments, and any attempt would now likely lead to a lawsuit by Edinburgh.
Scottish Social Justice Minister Shona Robison warned on Friday that it would “vigorously contest” any attempt by the bill. Westminster to “undermine the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament” and to block gender reform.
The legislation allows people aged 16 and 17 to change their sex, despite efforts by some Scottish legislators to keep the age at 18.
It shortens from two years to three months — or six months for 16-17-year-olds — the time it takes for an applicant to live in their new gender before it is officially recognized.
Opponents of the law fear it could pose a danger to women and girls, especially when it comes to offering segregated gender spaces.
But the Scottish government insists it will have no impact on Britain’s Equality Act, which allows transgender people to be banned from single-sex spaces such as changing rooms and shelters.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has faced one of the biggest internal uprisings in her eight-year tenure over the issue, said the previous gender reassignment system was “intrusive, traumatic and inhumane”.

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