Concerns that Sunak’s attempts to block the Scottish GRA bill will cause a constitutional crisis and continue hurting trans people.
Over the last week or so, according to the partisan Times newspaper, it seems the Rishi Sunak led Tory government are quite prepared to enact clause 35 in the Devolution legislation, that would seek to PREVENT Royal Assent of the Scottish GRA reformGRA Reform Gender Recognition Reform Bill - Scotland https://www.gov.scot/news/gender-recognition-reform-bill/ Published 03 March 2022 09:34 Part of Equality and rights Simplifying how trans people apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. See Also https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/mermaids-manifesto-for-gra-reform/ https://www.stonewall.org.uk/what-does-uk-government-announcement-gender-recognition-act-mean Bill.
To cross party Applause on Thursday the 22nd December 2022 (a day later than intended) the Scottish GRA reform bill was passed. This was passed with a high majority and had been heavily scrutinised along its entire journey. This is a fully democratic bill and decision.
It isn’t a ‘fly by night’ piece of legislation to take up space in the calendar. It’s a vitally important statute for the 21 st Century that has been thoroughly examined and cross examined. Royal Assent is the signing of the bill by the ruling monarch to create statute and bring it into law.
The monarch has the right to refuse to sign the legislation, but rarely, if ever refuse. In this case, it is not the King that would refuse to sign, but that the Westminster Government bringing action to prevent the bill from getting be signed. If the process to prevent enaction occurs, this will, as best delay any signature by the King for at least a year, and probably beyond the life of this parliament.
The question is why?
On Friday 6 th January 2023, information was released showing new statistics for LGBT people in England and Wales. A census question to obtain this data that was tinkered with and watered down due to anti trans interference.
That said, it did show that about 0.6% of the population identified as transgender. In England and Wales, which equates to about 263,000 people. A small minority of people, who have been more and more marginalised by the Tory governments over the last 10-12 years.
The Scottish census results are due out in a year or so with the census occurring in 2022 rather than 2021. In 2019 the population of Scotland was about 5.47million people. If that has increased by 0.7% (based on E&W) % it gives a current population of about 5.85million. If 0.6% are trans (based on E&W and other countries) this means about 35,000 (over 16s) are trans. In reality, as about 33% are Non-Binary and aren’t covered in the Act, the total is 23,400 or so. That is a little more than the population of Arbroath (ranked 32nd in Scottish towns and cities by size). The reason Sunak and his Gender Critical cabinet are keen to stop the Scottish bill, isn’t so much to prevent the Scots from having this legislation but to prevent the Westminster government from being ‘forced’ to do the same.
It seems bizarre that the Westminster government would aim to prevent legislation that directly denies extended rights of, at most, 35,000 people (in Scotland) and create a constitutional crisis in doing so.
But it’s not that.
Theresa May started the Westminster GRA reform process in 2017. A piece of legislation planned and introduced by a TORY Government. If it were not for Brexit, Theresa May would have seen it implemented. She has even recently said she still now believes it should happen here. The introduction lead to detailed consultations in 2018 (under Boris Johnson) and, despite overwhelming support from the consultation response, was initially delayed then dropped and abandoned.
In 2014, The UK was at the top of the ILGAILGA A driving force for political, legal and social change for LGBTI https://www.ilga-europe.org index (82%) and leading the way in LGBTQLGBTQ LGBTQIA+ is an inclusive term that includes people of all genders and sexualities, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and allies. While each letter in LGBTQIA+ stands for a specific group of people, the term encompasses the entire spectrum of gender fluidity and sexual identities. https://abbreviations.yourdictionary.com/what-does-lgbtqia-stand-for-full-acronym-explained.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT rights and welfare compared to the rest of Europe Russia was last with 6%. This continued under David Cameron but has declined steadily, at first, the rapidly, under the Johnson Government to leave the UK 14th (53%) in the table. The decline isn’t because other countries are improving (which may are), but because it’s getting worse in the UK. The 2023 table is highly likely to show further decline, especially if the prevention of Royal Assent for the Scottish GRA reform goes ahead as is likely.
The fact Scotland has lead the way on GRA reform, where England has lagged behind and given up on any reform whatsoever is a major problem for Sunak. He, along with Truss and Johnson before him are vehemently anti trans and anti LGBTQ in many ways. This is borne out of the party direction being driven from Tufton Street Think Tanks rather than my MPs and cabinet.
We know that Wales wants to become the most accepting LGBTQ country in Europe. Mark Drayford, the First Minister of Wales, has said he is looking favourably towards the Scottish GRA reform, and would vote in favour of a similar Westminster bill.
For Sunak, to allow Royal Assent to go through for the Scottish GRA reform, immediately puts him under pressure to do the same for England and Wales. The bones of reform are already in place. More than one consultation has been undertaken and the results are overwhelmingly in favour. A large proportion of parliament would support the legislation and Sunak could NOT rely on full Tory support even under a 3-line whip. Even with his large majority, he is not guaranteed success at preventing a Westminster bill passing.
This type of legislation has already been enacted in over 20 other countries (with a combined population about 350,000,000), including many in Europe and in some countries unanimously without the ‘gender war’ that has occurred here. This despite VERY active haters in Brazil & Mexico, yet they have not found any evidence of issues since their reforms. We would know if they had, they definitely would have been shouting about it from the rooftops.
In none of those countries has any evidence been found that the legislation has caused harm or created unexpected issues or concerns.
Sunak knows he will lose and as this goes against his (bigoted) principles and those of most of his cabinet, he cannot be seen to allow that to happen.
So, he is prepared to risk an unheard-of constitutional crisis and create at best a delay in the legislation, the hiatus in the devolved legislation and the cost and time within the Supreme Court to prevent about 24,000 Scottish people from having documents that enable them to live their life as themselves. This, on a thin likelihood of victory.
He also knows, that if he does intervene, [as he has now done] the Scottish government will immediately take the matter to court. Both he and his government will then, publicly, have to defend their stance. Is that stance representative of the majority of people of England and Wales? In a cost-of-living crisis, is that a useful way to spend borrowed money? I think we all know the answer to that one.
Sunak is apparently prepared to irreparably destroy the Union of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to stop legislation that affects a VERY small number of trans people. This, along with the wider economic and political damage it will cause, is simply so he doesn’t have to enact legislation that affects 260,000+ people in England and Wales.
A decision has to be made within 21 days of the date of passing of the bill in Scotland. That is the 19th January 2023. Sadly, simply saying they will intervene, which they have now done, as late on 16th January 2023, immediately creates a delay, even if they back down later. By then, he and his government may well be on the way out of office!
Living and dying by your principles isn’t always a good thing, not when that divides nations and affects 67 million people in one way or another!
In Tory Politics, things move quickly.
Up to now, anyone with a Gender Recognition Certificate from pretty much anywhere in the world would be recognised by the UK government. It was stated on the 9th January by the current Minister for Inequality, Kemi Badenoch, that this is being reviewed, and could be changed.
So, in order to spite the success of trans people in Scotland, the Westminster government is prepared to throw ALL trans people they don’t like with Gender Recognition Certificates under a very large bus. Is this just performing to the privileged elite and the shouty GCs in their gold plated think tanks in Tufton Street?
This may perhaps be what they see as ‘a compromise’ in NOT preventing Royal Assent.
Not much of a compromise really, as it still creates inequality that is entirely unnecessary AND will deliberately create division, anguish and delay……..because it’s to do with trans people.
What will Labour do?
Sir Kier Starmer was interviewed on the (Tory partisan) BBC and indicated he ‘has concerns’, while ignoring requests from transgender groups to discuss the perceived issues, including ourselves. Do none of these people have any idea what the intended legislation ACTUALLY does? It seems they don’t. The false narrative of GC ideology HAS to stop.
It would seem, even if Labour get elected, Trans people could still be at risk of having our rights removed. That is DEEPLY concerning.