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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ‘concerned’ about Scotland’s Gender Reform bill

It follows reports that the UK Government could block the bill.

By Alastair James

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Image: Wiki Commons)

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has said he’s “concerned” about Scotland’s gender recognition reforms.

His comments follow reports the UK Government could potentially block the bill from taking effect.

The changes approved in December will make it easier for people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). It removes the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

On Friday (13 January) the Prime Minister spoke to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland. He described it as a “very sensitive area,” and refused to say if the government would block the bill.

“What I’m concerned about is the impact of the bill across the United Kingdom,” Sunak said. He added that “as is entirely standard,” the UK government would be looking at the bill.

“There may be impacts across the UK that we need to be aware of and understand the impact of them,” he continued. “And that’s what we’re doing, and once the government has received final advice it will set out next steps.”

After meeting Scotland’s First Minister on Thursday (12 January) Mr Sunak said he wanted to work “constructively” with Nicola Sturgeon.

“We’ve got lots of challenges that we all face collectively around the UK and where we can work together and make a difference, we should,” Sunak also said.

As well as no longer having to acquire a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria to obtain a GRC, trans people in Scotland will have to declare they’ve been living as their “acquired gender” for three months (six if they are 16 or 17) before applying rather than two years.

People will also have to confirm they intend to keep living as their acquired gender. There will also be a three-month reflection period. The age at which people can apply for a GRC is also being lowered from 18 to 16.

The Scottish government moved ahead with its plans for reforms after the UK Government dropped them in 2020 following a lengthy consultation.

After Scotland’s bill passed in December, the BBC reported that the UK’s Scotland Secretary, Alister Jack, said the UK government “shares the concerns that many people have regarding certain aspects of this Bill, and in particular the safety issues for women and children.”

He also said the government would examine how the new bill impacts the 2010 Equality Act and could stop the bill by blocking Royal Assent. A Section 35 could be implemented if there’s the belief it would affect UK-wide equality legislation.

The UK Equalities Minister, Kemi Badenoch, has also reportedly expressed concerns over the bill.

Earlier this week, The Times reported that UK ministers are willing to block the legislation. Such a move would be “spiteful” and a “mistake,” according to Stonewall.

Sunak has plans to review trans rights in the 2010 Equality Act, according to reports.