Hide me!

Funding Announcement

We welcome the news that a partnership of LGBTI organisations including, Equality Network; LEAP Sports Scotland; LGBT Youth Scotland; and LGBT Health and Wellbeing, has been awarded £87,700 from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund via The National Lottery Community Fund.

Neil Ritch, Director, National Lottery Community Fund Scotland said, “We know LGBTI community groups have significant experience in responding to challenges so they are well placed to support people and communities across Scotland as they look to support a local response to COVID-19.

“This Scottish Government Supporting Communities Fund award of £87,700 will make a key difference to many LGBTI people, helping them become more resilient in the face of this crisis.”

As well as direct funding support for LGBTI groups, sports groups, young people and asylum seekers the funding includes support for online prides, LGBTI social and cultural events, and a package of support for LGBTI people facing digital poverty.

Scott Cuthbertson, Development Manager, Equality Network said, “LGBTI people and groups have faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, we welcome this funding that will support many LGBTI groups and people as we move to the next stage in this pandemic. We will work to swiftly disseminate this money directly to those that need it.”

Hugh Torrance, Executive Director of LEAP Sports Scotland said, “It is vital to work to mitigate any disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on LGBTIQ+ communities, and community organising efforts are central to that. We are pleased to be a part of this partnership to ensure that sport and physical activity groups and initiatives are able to benefit and able to play their critical role in our journey through this pandemic.”

Dr Mhairi Crawford, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland said, “We welcome the news of funding to support young people to access technology and data to engage with our services and receive vital 1:1 support from our expert team of youth workers.

“It is often assumed that young people have everything that they need to be able to make digital connections, but this isn’t always the case. We know that LGBT young people can experience high levels of poverty or lack access to the basic resources that they need to access digital support. This funding will allow them to access the support that they desperately need.”

Maruska Greenwood, Chief Executive, LGBT Health and Wellbeing said, “LGBT Health and Wellbeing are delighted to share in this award, which will bolsters our ability to support asylum seekers and refugees. This award will make a real difference to some of the individuals we are working with through our LGBT Refugee Project, many of whom were already very vulnerable, but have now been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and face severe hardship and destitution.”

The work will now commence to distribute the funding to where it is needed. The application was led by the Equality Network, with each organisation receiving funding for areas of work they lead on.

The amount granted to each organisation is £60,550 to Equality Network, £15,650 to LEAP Sports Scotland, £6500 to LGBT Youth Scotland and £5000 to LGBT Health and Wellbeing.

Please look out for further announcements or contact us for more information.

How accessible will the new, post-lockdown normal be?

The impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to be felt acutely across Scotland, the UK and the rest of the world. Our Intersectional Team looks at how the easing of the lockdown in England can give us some clues of what to expect when the time comes for Scotland to do the same. People flock back to town centres, cafés and shops. Life gets some level of normalcy. But social distancing rules are still in place, so long queues outside remind us that this new “normal” is not what it used to be.

What can we learn from England’s experience so that when this “new normal” reaches us, we can make sure that everyone can benefit in a safe and inclusive way? Some of us can’t wait to get out to the shops and support our local businesses, or are in desperate need for some new clothes or shoes but can’t buy online for one reason or another. Surely, being allowed to shop and use some services again will be a time of excitement and relief?

People with intersectional identities may be at higher risk of harm

Unfortunately, more people queuing in the streets to enter shops increases the potential risk for hate crime. Queues make everyone stand next to each other for long periods of time. You notice those standing next to you much more than if you were inside the shop crossing paths in an aisle. When tiredness and frustration sets in, tempers can fray.  

The queue, for all the boredom and frustration it brings, is also a place of vulnerability. If you leave, you miss your chance of buying food and other necessary items. So if someone starts being abusive towards you, you’re trapped. You have to endure it, or risk going hungry or missing the activity and losing out on some much-needed social interaction.

While this is true for any minority group, people with intersectional identities may be at higher risk in these circumstances, as targets of multiple discrimination.

If you need a carer or assistance while out and about, others may target you for bringing an extra person along. The carer could also be misread as a partner, which brings risk of being targeted with prejudice if you are then perceived as a same sex or LGBT couple (this is more likely when queuing for LGBT-related services).

Being an LGBT-friendly space does not necessarily mean that service users/customers will automatically feel safe, especially if required to queue outside, exposed to people who are not part of the service and could be hostile towards it.

Additionally, BME people may be at higher risk of discrimination while wearing a mask, so if you are not white, being out and about caries an additional layer of risk. This needs to be taken into consideration, especially when providing a safe space such as support groups and LGBT spaces.

Our 5 top tips for making events and services safe and accessible

Fear of discrimination puts people off going out altogether, and so those most vulnerable get left out when “everybody” is allowed to go out again. With that in mind, what can we do as business owners, club hosts and event organisers to make sure everyone can share the excitement and relief of easing the lockdown? 

  1. Have a clear designated space with a chair or two for people who cannot stand for long periods of time.
  2. Where possible, provide specific times or a separate line for people who have limited capacity to queue due to access needs.
  3. Put signage along the queue space reminding people that discrimination will not be tolerated, along with the measures taken to enforce this (for example, removing those causing disturbances), then make sure your rules are properly enforced.
  4. Believe (and support, where possible) service users and customers who report incidents to you.
  5. If you have staff at the entrance controlling the number of people coming inside, have them pay attention to what is going on in the queue and proactively de-escalate or disrupt incidents before they need to be reported.

 

Remember that this is a stressful time for everyone. Anxiety and frustration are high. But by following some of these guidelines, you can ease the stress on both yourself and your service users. And then, hopefully, the eventual easing of lockdown can be for everyone.

The Intersectional Team

Equality Network response to today’s Sunday Times front page

Update 18th June: A huge thank you to everyone who let the Prime Minister know that you oppose these proposals. We think this is really piling on the pressure to stop them. We’ll keep everyone updated via our social media channels.

Today (14th June 2020), the Sunday Times has reported that an unnamed UK Government source has leaked to them a draft of what the UK Government Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, apparently proposes to do to try to undermine trans equality.

The report claims that Liz Truss will completely ignore the 70% of respondents to the UK Government Gender Recognition Act consultation who supported removing the intrusive medical evidence requirements for correcting a trans person’s birth certificate. The Sunday Times bizarrely claims the consultation result was unfairly influenced by trans people. In actual fact, the Sunday Times and other media intensively promoted anti-trans campaigning against the reforms and trans people represent less than 1% of the population.

The report also claims that Liz Truss will try to force local councils not to provide gender neutral toilets and to restrict trans women’s ability to use women’s toilets. We know from looking at similar attempts in North Carolina and Texas that exclusion of trans people from toilets is unworkable but harmfully increases the risk of transphobic hate crime.

The report also made mention of Liz Truss apparently trying to make it more difficult for trans teenagers to access puberty delaying medication but gave no details.

For Scotland, Gender Recognition Act reform, toilet regulations and access to healthcare are under the control of the Scottish Government rather than the UK Government. We call for the Scottish Government to uphold their positive commitments to trans equality. We are appalled that the UK Government Women and Equalities Minister appears to be considering a deplorable roll-back of trans people’s safety, privacy and dignity. Across the UK and internationally, trans people, LGBT organisations, wider equalities organisations, academics, medical professionals, lawyers, service providers, businesses and thousands of individual allies will strongly resist any such roll-backs.

We note positively that the Sunday Times reports these draft proposals have not yet been approved by @10DowningStreet. We call on @BorisJohnson to leave trans people in peace and not follow in the footsteps of anti-LGBT bullies such as Trump in the USA, Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Orbán in Hungary.

Everyone can help by urging @BorisJohnson not to take forward any of these potential anti-trans proposals: https://email.number10.gov.uk/

Support for LGBTI groups during COVID-19

Since the crisis emerged we’ve been working to continue our capacity building support LGBTI groups around Scotland.

In the first instance we set up a facebook group for LGBTI groups to join, share good practice and network. If you run an LGBTI group in Scotland please consider joining, the group can be found here.

To help reduce social isolation we have secured funding from the Scottish Government Covid-19 Relief Fund to provide free Zoom Pro accounts, for a period of 4 months, along with training, to a number of LGBTI groups. If your group/sports club/organisation would like a free zoom account please fill out this expression of interest.

So far we have received an expression of interest from almost 50 LGBTI groups. We have also held zoom or phone conversations to assess the needs of 42 LGBTI groups so far. We’ve supported 6 applications for funding, delivered one-2-one training for 8 groups and continue to support pride organisers around the country with contingency planning.

Training for LGBTI Groups

We have four online training events planned in the next few weeks for groups trying to get up to speed on how to use zoom and how to run their online meetings. Please register using the links below.

Zoom 5.0 for LGBTI Groups – Thursday 11th June, 6.30pm

Zoom 5.0 for LGBTI Groups – Tuesday 16th June, 6.30pm

Marvellous Online Meetings – Thursday 18th June, 6.30pm

Marvellous Online Meetings – Tuesday 23rd June, 6.30pm

Support for LGBTI People During COVID-19

We’re coordinating closely with the other national LGBTI organisations. Both LGBT Youth Scotland and LGBT Health and Wellbeing are providing increased direct support services to the the LGBTI community.

LGBTI people may be separated at the current time from those who best know, understand, and support us. And for many reasons including health, discrimination, and poverty, some of us will be particularly hard hit by the current crisis. We have included below details of expanded support services available to all LGBTI people, provided by our friends at LGBT Health and Wellbeing, and LGBT Youth Scotland.

If you or others you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out to the LGBT organisations – they are here for you.

LGBT Helpline Scotland
Phone: 0300 123 2523 (Tue & Wed 12-9pm, Thu & Sun 12-6pm)
Email: helpline@lgbthealth.org.uk
Chat online: www.lgbthealth.org.uk (3-9pm)

LGBT Youth Scotland
Text: 07786 202 370 (Mon-Fri)
Email: info@lgbtyouth.org.uk
Chat online: www.lgbtyouth.org.uk (6pm – 8pm)

Scottish Government announcement that the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is on hold due to the coronavirus crisis

We understand that dealing with the current outbreak of COVID-19 must be the Scottish Government’s top priority. That is why we support today’s announcement that they will deprioritise any new primary or secondary legislation not intended to deal with this public health crisis until it is over. At least six bills are now currently on hold, and these include the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

Whilst we know that trans people and our allies will be hugely disappointed that this means work on reform of the Gender Recognition Act has been halted for now, the most important thing for all of us at the moment is to look after ourselves and each other. We urge everyone to keep reaching out through these difficult times. Whilst we need to be physically distant, it is important to stay socially connected.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, is responsible for GRA reform. She has said to us in a letter today following the announcement, that:

“The Scottish Government continues to have a strong commitment to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and improve the current process for trans people.”

Once this is all over, we will get back to making the case for why they must honour that commitment, and reform this law.

The Cabinet Secretary goes on to say in her letter that:

“(the Scottish Government) remains committed to improving the lives of trans and non-binary people more generally… You have raised a number of issues around the inequalities trans people continue to experience and I have asked that – once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed – officials work with you to develop proposals that deliver meaningful improvement to the lives of trans people in Scotland.”

We welcome this commitment. Once the coronavirus crisis is over, we look forward to working with the Scottish Government on a range of issues such as access to healthcare, tackling hate crime and trans young people’s experiences at school.

But until then, let’s do everything we can to help each other through this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to download the Cabinet Secretary’s letter as a PDF

Code of Conduct

Events Code of Conduct

We are committed to making our events as safe, respectful, inclusive and enjoyable as possible. Our events draw a wide variety of attendees with different identities, views and experiences so it is important that everyone has a common understanding of appropriate behaviour.

We require all attendees of our events to follow this code of conduct.  

If you think you might have difficulty understanding or following this code of conduct, please let us know before the start of the event so that we can help you.

Respectful Communication

  • Respect each other’s identities, names and pronouns at all times.
  • If you are unsure of the pronoun someone uses ask them or avoid gendered language, e.g. use “they” instead of “he” or “she”.
  • Be inclusive and supportive of those who are less confident or who have communication difficulties so that everyone can contribute.
  • Listen to and follow the instructions of facilitators, including their decisions about what is off-topic and who is next to speak and for how long.
  • Rather than interrupt another participant who is speaking, indicate to the facilitator that you wish to speak and then wait your turn.
  • Friendly constructive discussion is welcomed but personal insults and demeaning or argumentative comments are not acceptable.
  • Avoid using offensive terms derived from pornography.

Equality and Diversity

  • Accept people’s self-identified gender for all purposes.
  • Everyone is entitled to use whichever toilet they self-define as most appropriate for their gender identity and gender expression.
  • Avoid negative comments, assumptions and stereotyping of people on the basis of their gender identity, gender expression, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, class, disability, religion, beliefs, age, accent or culture.

Confidentiality

  • Keep personal information about others private and only share if they have given you permission.
  • Get permission before publicly identifying any event attendee, including on personal blogs, websites and social networking sites, e.g. Facebook.
  • Ensure you have permission from everyone with their face visible in shot before taking a photograph.
  • Ensure you have permission from everyone who might be recorded before starting any audio or film recording.
  • If you believe someone has photographed, audio recorded or filmed you without your permission, you may ask them to delete the image/recording or urgently contact any of the event organisers for assistance.
  • The Equality Network / Scottish Trans Alliance will not publish information, photographs or recordings which may identify attendees without their permission.
  • The Equality Network / Scottish Trans Alliance will not share any information about attendees without permission unless necessary due to safety concerns.

General Behaviour

  • Attendees may leave a session or event at any time without explanation.
  • The behaviours of others are never justification for anyone to break this Code of Conduct in response.
  • Alcohol consumption is not permitted, except in moderation at specific evening events.
  • Any attendee who causes damage to property will be held liable.
  • The use or possession of illicit drugs is never permitted during our events.
  • Shouting, swearing, harassing, threatening or humiliating behaviour (verbal, physical or sexual) towards others is unacceptable.

What happens if the Code of Conduct is broken?

Please let us know as soon as possible if you experience or witness anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or which may be in breach of the Code of Conduct. Even if you do not want anything done, please still let us know.

If you are able you can tell us during the event by speaking to the facilitator/s, or after the event by contacting en@equality-netowork.org or calling us on 0131 467 6039.

Examples of things we can do:

  • listen to you in a private space
  • talk to the others involved
  • ask for an apology
  • ask them to leave you alone
  • require them to not be where you are
  • exclude them from the rest of the event
  • exclude them from future events

Breaches of the Code of Conduct will be dealt with at the discretion of the Equality Network / Scottish Trans Alliance staff. The Equality Network / Scottish Trans Alliance may also make other reasonable requests that are not specifically included here or take other action if necessary.

Thank you for reading and following this Code of Conduct.
If you have any questions, please contact us.

Together – An open letter to MSPs from the LGBT community in support of trans equality.

We are LGBT groups, and organisations working for LGBT equality, from all over Scotland.

The LGBT community in Scotland, and our allies, have worked together for a better Scotland, changing this country for the better of all its people and challenging sexual orientation and gender reassignment discrimination. In this journey we have learned that as an LGBT community we are stronger when we are united.

In all our progress in working towards our shared goal of equality for all, we have proudly recognised and valued the range of needs and priorities within our diverse community.

Recently, we have been concerned by attempts by some to isolate the trans community from the wider LGBT community; this goes against everything we stand for.

Trans people are the women, men, and non-binary people that they say they are.

We are resolute and united in support of trans equality and human rights, as we have always been, and today reaffirm our support for trans people and equality.

We stand for LGBT equality alongside equality for all other groups – there is no real equality unless it is equality for all.

We stand for full inclusion in the census. People must be allowed to record their own sexual orientation, even if they use less common terms. Trans people must be allowed to record the sex in which they live.

We stand in support of a reformed Gender Recognition Act that enables trans people to more smoothly change their birth certificates to match their lives and other identity documents.

Signed:

Aberdeen LGBTQ+ Forum
Amazing Gracies
Auld Reekie Roller Derby
Ayrshire LGBT+ Education Network
Ayrshire LGBTQ
Ayrshire Pride
Bute LGBT+
Bute Pride
Caledonian Thebans RFC
Colinton Squashers
ConnexONS Fife
Dumfries & Galloway LGBT Plus
Dundee Frontrunners
Dundee Pride
Dundee University LGBT+ Society
Dunoon Pride
Edinburgh Frontrunners
Edinburgh Racqueteers
Edinburgh STRIDE
Edinburgh University Staff Pride Network
Equality Network
Four Pillars
Free Pride Glasgow
Glasgow Alphas RFC
Glasgow Frontrunners
Glasgow LGBTQI Substance Use Working Group
Glasgow University LGBTQ+
Grampian Pride
Hebridean Pride
Hidayah LGBT
Highland LGBT Forum
Highland Pride
Hiv Scotland
HotScots FC
LEAP Sports Scotland
LGBT Health and Wellbeing
LGBT Unity
LGBT Youth Scotland
LGBT+ Conservatives
LGBT+ Labour Scotland
LGBT+ Lib Dems
Moray LGBT
NetworQ Orkney
Oban Pride
Orkney Pride
OurStory Scotland
Out for Independence
Out On Sundays
Outspoken Arts
PCS Proud
Perth Parrots Floorball Club
Perthshire Pride
Pink Saltire
Pride East Kilbride
Pride Edinburgh
Pride Glasgow
Pride in the Borders
Pride Proms Project
Pride Saltire – East Lothian
Queer Ephemera
Queer Napier
Rainbow Glasgaroos
Rainbow Greens
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland LGBTQ+ Society
Saltire Thistle FC
Scene Alba Magazine
Scene Radio
Scottish Bi+ Network
Scottish Borders LGBT Equality
Scottish LGBTI Police Association
Sisters Scotland
Shelf Satisfaction
Somewhere EDI
SQIFF
Stirling University LGBTQ+ Society
Stonewall Scotland
Strathclyde University LGBT+ Society
SX Health
Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland
Time For Inclusive Education
University of Glasgow LGBT+ Staff Network
Vale Pride
Waverley Care
West Lothian Pride
Winter Pride Scotland

Equality Organisations Welcome Scottish Government Draft Bill To Reform The Gender Recognition Act

Leading LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) organisations in Scotland have welcomed the Scottish Government’s draft Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, published today. The draft bill is out for public consultation until 17 March 2020.

According to Scottish Trans Alliance, Equality Network, LGBT Youth Scotland, Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Health and Wellbeing, the draft bill is a step in the right direction towards greater equality for transgender people in Scotland.

The Scottish Government previously ran a four month consultation in 2018 on how the Gender Recognition Act, which dates from 2004, could be improved. They received over 15,500 consultation responses. Two-thirds (65%) of Scottish respondents agreed with the proposed reform to a statutory declaration system.

The Scottish Government draft bill aims to simplify how transgender people change the sex on their birth certificates. The key changes are to:

  • Move to a system whereby a trans person makes a formal legal statutory declaration confirming the sex in which they have been living for at least 3 months and their intention to continue to do so for the rest of their life.
  • Introduce a 3 month ‘reflection’ period before a gender recognition certificate would be issued, meaning a trans person will have had to live in that sex for over 6 months before being able to change their birth certificate.
  • Remove the current requirement to provide a demeaning psychiatric report containing intrusive details such as what toys trans people played with as children, their sexual relationships and how distressed they were before transitioning.
  • Remove the current requirement to provide an invasive medical report describing any hormonal or surgical treatment they are planning or have undergone, or confirming they do not intend to undergo such treatment.
  • Allow 16 and 17 year olds to apply for a gender recognition certificate.

Passports, driving licences, medical records and employment records are already changed by self-declaration when a person starts transitioning. The gender recognition process to change a trans person’s sex on their birth certificate will remain more difficult than changing their sex on other identity documents.

James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, said:

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s publication of their draft bill to reform the Gender Recognition Act. The current process to change the sex on a trans person’s birth certificate is a humiliating, offensive and expensive red-tape nightmare which requires them to submit intrusive psychiatric evidence to a faceless tribunal panel years after they transitioned.

“What’s written on a trans person’s birth certificate is not the deciding factor for their access to single-sex services or sports competitions. The reasons trans people change the sex on their birth certificate are so that they no longer have the worry of being ‘outed’ by that last piece of paperwork not matching their other ID, and to be sure that, when they die, nobody can erase their hard-won identity and right to be recorded as themselves.

“We are very pleased that the draft bill is based on statutory declaration not psychiatric evidence and that it reduces the age for application from 18 to 16. However, we are disappointed that the Scottish Government has chosen not to include under 16s or non-binary trans people in the draft bill. We urge the Scottish Government to expand the bill so that all trans people can have equal inclusion and acceptance within Scottish society.”  

During the recent UK election campaign, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was asked about reform of the Gender Recognition Act and replied:

“The reform of the Gender Recognition Act is about making the process of legally changing gender less intrusive, less bureaucratic and less traumatic for trans people. It doesn’t change the situation of single sex or women’s only spaces, that is governed by the Equality Act, which we are not proposing to change. You don’t need a gender recognition certificate to access women only spaces right now.

“I am a supporter of trans rights, I’m a supporter of women’s rights and I think it is incumbent on people like me to demonstrate that those things aren’t and needn’t be in tension and in competition. I am a lifelong feminist. I would not be proposing or arguing for something that I thought would be ‘trampling women’s rights’.”

[BBC Radio 5 Live (2 Dec 2019): https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000cqdy at timestamp 33:30]

Dr Mhairi Crawford, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, said:

“LGBT Youth Scotland welcomes today’s announcement and are pleased that transgender young people over 16 are included in the draft bill.

“We support the proposed changes to enable 16 and 17 year olds to change their legal paperwork to align with their gender identity, recognising trans young people’s right to privacy and to be protected from discrimination. In Scotland, 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to vote, leave school, get married and have children. They can already change the sex on their passports and education records. It makes little sense to deny them the protections that updating their birth certificate affords them.

“We share young people’s disappointment that there is no inclusion of non-binary people in this draft bill and no process for under 16s who wish to obtain legal recognition of their gender. We do, however, recognise that progress takes time and regard today’s draft bill as a steppingstone to full legal recognition for trans people. LGBT Youth Scotland will strive to bring trans young people’s views and experiences to the fore during this consultation and we will work closely with our Youth Commission on gender recognition as we develop our organisational response.”

Dr Rebecca Crowther, Policy Coordinator at Equality Network, said:

“As a lesbian feminist woman, I know that trans rights are not in contradiction of, nor counter to, the fight for women’s rights and equality, of which I am part. Scotland’s national women’s organisations broadly support the reform of the Gender Recognition Act to a statutory declaration system. Now that the draft bill has been published, it is very clear that it does not make any changes to the Equality Act’s single-sex services provisions, so will have no effect on the way single-sex spaces can choose to operate.

Sophie Bridger, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager at Stonewall Scotland, said:

“Scotland has a proud history of being a progressive country and this Bill gives us the chance to help trans communities be recognised for who they are. Reforming the Gender Recognition Act to replace the current dehumanising, medicalised process with a process of statutory declaration would be life-changing for many trans people. However, we’d like to see the Bill go further to recognise non-binary identities, so every part of the trans community can benefit from the legislative change.

“Trans people have suffered for too long from inequalities that can be easily removed. So we need everyone who cares about equality to ‘come out’ in support of reforming the Gender Recognition Act and respond to the government’s consultation on the draft Bill.”

Dr Rosie Tyler-Greig, Policy and Influencing Manager at LGBT Health & Wellbeing, said:

“LGBT Health and Wellbeing welcomes the draft bill and the opportunity for trans people and their organisations to re-affirm the importance of a more accessible and respectful gender recognition process. Improving the process will relieve a lot of stress for many trans people, who currently struggle to gather complicated evidence and medical reports just to be recognised as who they are. It is only right that at significant points in the life course, such as accessing pensions or getting married, trans people’s paperwork matches who they are – something the majority of us can take for granted. We remain disappointed that recognition for non-binary people is not included in the proposed changes and we urge Scottish Government to take positive steps towards ensuring everyone can be recognised for who they are.”


For further information, and any press requests, please contact James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, on 07554 992626 or james@equality-network.org

Notes to editors:

  1. The Scottish Government draft Gender Recognition (Scotland) Bill can be found at: https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/gender-recognition-reform-scotland-bill/
  2. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows trans people to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate. However, the procedure is intrusive and humiliating, and is not available to people under 18 or to non-binary people. In their 2016 Holyrood manifestos, the SNP, Labour, the Greens and LibDems all committed to reforming the Gender Recognition Act, and the Tories committed to review it. The Scottish Government consulted publicly on proposals for reform, from November 2017 to March 2018 and two-thirds of the Scottish respondents supported reform to a statutory declaration system: https://www2.gov.scot/Resource/0054/00540424.pdf and https://www.gov.scot/publications/review-gender-recognition-act-2004-analysis-responses-public-consultation-exercise-report/
  3. The national Scottish women’s organisations broadly support the reform of the Gender Recognition Act to a statutory declaration system. Their support statement can be found at: https://www.engender.org.uk/news/blog/statement-in-support-of-the-equal-recognition-campaign-and-reform-of-the-gender-recognitio/
  4. 23 governments already provide legal gender recognition through statutory declaration: Argentina (population 44 million), Belgium (11 million), 5 provinces in Canada (5.5 million), Colombia (49 million), Denmark (5.7 million), Ireland (4.7 million), Malta (0.5 million), Norway (5.2 million), Portugal (10 million), 2 regions in Spain (14 million), Uruguay (3.4 million) and 7 states in the USA (71 million).
  5. Gender recognition reform does not affect sport. Where necessary for fair and safe competition, sports governing bodies will continue to be able to restrict trans people’s participation regardless of whether they have received legal gender recognition.
  6. Gender recognition reform does not create any new rights for trans people to access single-sex services. For example, trans women have never been required to change the sex on their birth certificates in order to use women’s toilets, changing facilities or other women’s services. The Equality Act 2010 will continue to provide single-sex services with the ability to treat a trans person differently from other service users if that is a proportionate response to achieve a legitimate aim (such as ensuring adequate privacy). This Equality Act provision applies regardless of whether the trans person has received legal gender recognition.
  7. Gender recognition reform does not affect criminal justice. A trans person’s gender recognition history and previous identity details are permitted to be shared for the purpose of preventing or investigating crime. Receiving gender recognition does not prevent someone from being prosecuted or convicted for any criminal behaviour, nor does it enable them to hide any previous convictions.
  8. The Scottish Government’s statutory declaration system would still require a trans man or trans woman to be living permanently as a man or woman before they can receive legal gender recognition. It would remain more difficult for a trans person to change the sex on their birth certificate than it is for them to change the sex on their driving licence, medical records, passport, bank accounts and other identity documents. Making a fraudulent statutory declaration is a serious criminal offence of perjury and is punishable by imprisonment.
  9. Scottish Trans Alliance scottishtrans.org is Scotland’s national transgender equality and human rights project and is based within the Equality Network, a national charity working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights in Scotland: www.equality-network.org
  10. LGBT Youth Scotland lgbtyouth.org.uk is Scotland’s largest youth and community based organisation for LGBT young people. We regularly support professionals to meet the needs of gender non-conforming children under the age of 13 and work with a high number of transgender young people under the age of 16 within our services. We run youth groups across Scotland and two national participation projects, including the LGBT Youth Commission on Gender Recognition.
  11. Stonewall Scotland stonewallscotland.org.uk campaign for equality and justice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people living in Scotland. We work with businesses, the public sector, local authorities, the Scottish Government and Parliament and a range of partners to improve the lived experience of LGBT people in Scotland.
  12. LGBT Health and Wellbeing www.lgbthealth.org.uk works to promote the health, wellbeing and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults in Scotland. We run the LGBT Helpline Scotland and provide a range of community projects, including specialist mental health services and trans-specific social and support programmes.”

Statement on reform of the Gender Recognition Act

We welcome that today’s announcement is a key step further towards reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The Scottish Government has reaffirmed their plan to move to a system of self-declaration, which would be a big improvement on the current process, and would remove the intrusive and humiliating requirements to provide both psychiatric and medical reports to a tribunal panel of medical strangers – and recognise that trans men and trans women are the only experts on their own identities. Cabinet Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said “It is our commitment to bring forward a bill in this Parliament.”

However, we share people’s frustration with how long reform to the Gender Recognition Act is taking, and the stress this is placing on our communities. This announcement comes 16 months after the very long and extensive consultation process closed. We call on the Government to publish the draft bill swiftly after the Summer recess – further delays are simply providing more space for inaccurate and harmful conversations to carry on, and leadership on this topic is more important than ever. While all legislation goes through multiple stages of consultation and scrutiny, it is vital that from now on the focus is on the technical details of the bill and not a rehash of the previous massive consultation.

Although a move to a system of statutory declaration is a big improvement on the current process, the Government’s draft bill would still mean a law that falls short of providing legal recognition for all trans people in Scotland.

We call on the Scottish Government to allow 16 and 17 year olds to change their birth certificates through the same statutory declaration process as over 18s. In Scotland, they are allowed to vote, leave school, get married and have children. They can already change the sex on their passports and education records. It makes no sense to deny them the privacy protection of being able to update their birth certificate. For trans children who are under 16, gender recognition ought to be made available with parental consent.

In the initial consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act, the Scottish Government invited views about legal gender recognition for non-binary people, which a majority of respondents supported. The government are not proposing to introduce legal recognition, but are establishing a working group to look at “procedure and practice”. The UK and Scottish Governments have always been reluctant to provide full legal recognition for non-binary people. Therefore, we are frustrated but not surprised that it will most likely be necessary for us to use the courts to ensure that non-binary people are fully afforded the same right to have their lived identities recognised as is granted to trans men and trans women. We will continue to strongly make the case for non-binary recognition, and to work with policy makers to improve non-binary people’s equality and inclusion in workplaces, public services and data collection.