Letter from Shirley-Anne Somerville on 17th January 2019
James, our manager at Scottish Trans, Tim, our director at the Equality Network, and Colin, the Director of Stonewall Scotland, wrote to Shirley-Anne Somerville to seek reassurances that the Scottish Government are still intending to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004, after some negative media coverage about their plans.
Below is her reply, that we received on 17th January:
“Dear James, Tim & Colin,
Thank you for your letter of 3 December 2018 asking me to reassure Scotland’s trans communities about the Scottish Government’s commitment to reform of the Gender Reform Act 2004 in line with international best practice, following an article in The Sunday Times on 2 December 2018 suggesting that the Scottish Government may be considering dropping this commitment.
Thank you for drawing to my attention the concerns of trans people around this issue. I appreciate that this may be a difficult and distressing time for them.
The Scottish Government remains committed to reform of the 2004 Act. “Delivering for today, investing for tomorrow”, our Programme for Government 2018-2019 (https://www.gov.scot/…/delivering-today-investing-tomorrow…/) was clear that:
“we will continue work that will enable us to bring forward legislation on gender recognition in the next legislative programme”.
We are considering carefully the consultation outcomes, as we reach decisions on our next steps.
Responses to the Consultation
You can read all of the responses from organisations here (these include responses that are both in support of and against reforming the Gender Recognition Act).
The Scottish Government published an independent analysis of all of the responses to the consultation, which can be read here. They received 15,697 responses, which includes 15,532 responses from individuals. On the key questions:
- 60% agreed with self-declaration and 39% disagreed (for Scottish respondents only, these figures were 65% agreed and 34% disagreed).
- 61% agreed that 16 and 17 year olds should be able to legally change their gender, and 37% disagreed (for Scottish respondents only, these figures were 66% and 32%).
- 59% thought something needed to be done for under-16s (63% of Scottish respondents only). There were mixed views on what should be done, but the two most popular options were parental consent, and applications by a capable child.
- 62% thought something needed to be done for non-binary people, and 33% didn’t think action should be taken (for Scottish respondents only, these figures were 66% and 30%). The most popular option was full legal recognition of non-binary people.
The Scottish Government’s consultation ran from 9th November 2017 to 1st March 2018.
Responses to the consultation were accepted from anywhere in the world. People were able to respond as individuals or as representatives of any size of group or organisation. People were able to tell the Scottish Government to keep their response confidential and/or anonymous.
We answered the key questions as follows:
- Q1. AGREE to self-declaration
- Q5. AGREE to lowering the age to 16 + 17 year olds
- Q6. OPTION 3 parental application for under 16s
- Q12. & Q13. YES, then OPTIONS 1, 3, 4 and 6 for non-binary recognition
Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities, at our Activism & Wellbeing Conference on 10th November 2018
We were delighted to welcome Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People & Equalities, to our national trans activism & wellbeing conference on 10th November. In her speech, she reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to reforming the Gender Recognition Act in-line with international best practice:
Programme for Government
The Programme for Government was released on 4th September 2018, and outlines all of the Bills that will be introduced in the Scottish Parliament in the next year. Although the Gender Recognition Bill was not included, there was a commitment to:
“Take forward work on proposed changes to the system for obtaining legal gender recognition, replacing the UK Gender Recognition Panel. We will bring forward legislation on gender recognition in the next legislative programme.”