Home > News > Statement on reform of the Gender Recognition Act
21 June 2019   |    News
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.
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Equality Network is a national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights charity.
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