On November 11th four former Labour MSPs wrote to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and deputy leader Jackie Baillie about their concerns regarding the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. As yet, they have not received a reply.
Dear Anas and Jackie,
We are writing to you as former Scottish Labour MSPs and signatories of Labour Women’s Declaration, regarding stages 2 and 3 of the GRR bill.
Recent polling has revealed that there is not majority public support for a self-declaration model of gender recognition (‘self-ID’). We have all received representations from party members and Labour voters expressing deep concerns about the impact of this bill on women, girls and young people in our most vulnerable communities where access to CAMHS is all but non-existent. We are concerned that Labour is not taking account of the findings of the Cass interim report, that children in our communities need joined up mental health support and watchful waiting rather than being affirmed in an identity that may see them end up on a medical pathway, with harmful long-term effects.
Unless there is clarity on the face of the bill stating that changing your legally recognised sex under the GRA does not change your sex under the Equality Act, Scottish Labour cannot honour many of our manifesto commitments on women, including reinstating single sex hospital wards, increasing opportunities for single sex sports and ending sex discrimination.
The ease and flippancy with which bad actors are willing to use these provisions was exemplified starkly by the man who pleaded to charges in a Dundee court last week as one sex in the morning, and the opposite sex in the afternoon. It is our understanding that this man was held on remand in Cornton Vale, which houses some of the most marginalised and abused women in our communities. Current Scottish Prison Service policy permits this and it will be impossible to roll back these absurdities in public policy which have moved ahead of the law, if Parliament votes for Self ID.
Furthermore the bill does not prevent sex offenders from changing their legal status, thereby giving them further protection and anonymity to go on and offend again. Has the parliamentary group properly explored how robust the statutory declaration is? What it means to live in an acquired gender? How this can be challenged and proven? We are concerned that many of these proposals have not been thought through by the government and that Labour is not probing critical questions on this bill.
The Equality Act is central to Labour’s commitment to protecting women. Is the amendment laid by Scottish Labour last week strong enough to protect the legal commitments we made to women in the Equality Act? These and many more issues around Section 22, the proposed reduction in age for those eligible to apply for a GRC and potential cross-border anomalies are of concern to us and to party members. Is it acceptable that we pass law that we expect to be challenged or clarified in court as Jackie outlined to the Chamber last week?
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and the Labour group urgently to work together on the final stages of this bill.