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Transgender law change put on hold in Scotland

May 2020

Shirley Anne Sommerville
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Covid-19 emergency planning and the subsequent lockdown saw the Scottish government stop work on plans to make changing legal sex much easier.

The Scottish government has proposed making sweeping changes to allow anyone to change legal sex by self-declaration within just six months, remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and lower the age limit from 18 to 16.

Scottish government minister Shirley-Anne Somerville had said in February that ministers were ‘determined’ to pass the controversial legislation before the next election, despite SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon coming under fire from people within her own party over the controversial measures.

In early March, finance minister Kate Forbes and former adviser Kevin Pringle both urged caution over the radical changes, while SNP MP Joanna Cherry revealed she had been the victim of online abuse for stating that she believes changing the law puts women at risk.

According to the Scottish Parliament, there are no plans to delay the 2021 Holyrood elections, and so an amended Gender Recognition Act is less likely to become law before the end of this parliamentary term, given the extended lockdown.

A survey in The Sunday Times carried out in December 2019 found that fewer than one in three people were in favour of reducing the age limit.

As reported in previous editions of Evangelical Times, the Panelbase survey of 1,009 people conducted for The Sunday Times found that only 32 percent of respondents support the idea of bringing the age limit down from 18 to 16 while 50 percent opposed it and 18 percent said they did not know.

At the time, Lucy Hunter Blackburn of the MurrayBlackburnMackenzie policy analysis collective, told The Sunday Times, ‘The most controversial part of the proposed change is removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.’