Scottish Government fail in bid to postpone showdown with Westminster over gender reforms 

By Lucy Ashton

A former SNP leadership candidate has demanded that Nicola Sturgeon apologise after pushing “discredited” gender reforms on her MSPs.

Ash Regan, pictured right, who finished third in the contest to replace the First Minister, made the call after Labour changed its position on the legislation.

And the nationalist party were mocked on GB News for advocating such an extremist position on gender that they refused to call a trans rapist a man on national TV.

This was regarding the case of Clydebank person Isla Bryson, left, who was sent to a women’s prison after self-identifying as that gender before a huge public outcry caused a massive u-turn by the Scottish Government.

The SNP pressed forward with its controversial Gender Reform Recognition Bill despite growing opposition from the public. Women in particular were concerned about their safety due to a clause in the legislation which allowed trans people to legally change gender without the need for a medical certificate if they lived that way for a minimum of three months.

Campaigners claimed that this would mean the erosion of safe female-only spaces like changing rooms and toilets and would let sexual predators invade this space and commit crimes. But their concerns were ignored, and the bill passed through at Holyrood following a lengthy and contentious debate.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has suffered another crushing court defeat as they failed in a bid to postpone a legal showdown with Westminster over gender reforms. A September court date was set for the clash between the governments over the controversial legislation.

Humza Yousaf decided to go ahead with a costly legal battle with his UK counterparts after Scotland Secretary Alister Jack invoked Section 35 to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill from being put into law. He did this due to concerns about it affecting UK-wide legislation.

Despite the majority of Scots backing no court action, the First Minister went ahead with it anyway. And now lawyers acting for his SNP executive have suffered a first major defeat.

Lawyers for the Scottish Ministers went to the Court of Session on Friday to seek the cancellation of the hearing in September between the 18th and 21st.

Advocate Paul Reid told judge Lady Haldane, left,  that this postponement was needed due to an appeal brought by For Women Scotland.

He said that the outcome of the appeal could have ramifications for the Scottish Government’s judicial review because both cases had issues in common. However, this was rejected by Lady Haldane.

Lawyers for the UK Government’s law officer, the Advocate General Lord Stewart of Dirleton KC, urged the judge to refuse the postponement request.

David Johnston KC told Lady Haldane that the hearings could proceed as they dealt with different legal issues. He also said that the Scottish Government knew of For Women Scotland’s appeal at the time the September hearing was arranged and this request came “too late”.

He said it was in the public interest to have the matter heard as soon as possible. Lady Haldane agreed with the submissions made to her by Mr Johnston and she refused the Scottish Government’s request.

She said: “In any event I do not accept that the issues in the For Women Scotland case and the issues in the this motion brought by the petitioners are the same. In the event that For Women Scotland is successful in the Inner House, further submissions on the case can be made for whatever they see is appropriate. For these reasons, I refuse the motion.”

The feminist campaign group are set to address civil appeal judges in October 2023 to contest a decision made earlier this year by Lady Haldane. For Women Scotland believe that the judge’s ruling with regard to Scottish Government’s changes to legislation called the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act was wrong. 

The act is designed to increase the numbers of women who sit on public boards in Scotland. Lady Haldane’s ruling stated that “sex” provisions in the Equality Act 2010 could mean that men who have changed their gender to women – and who have a gender recognition certificate – could be regarded as being the same as women who were born female.

This means that trans women could sit on public boards and fulfil the legislation’s requirement for public boards to be 50 per cent female in their make up.

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