The Scottish government has drafted legislation to streamline the process for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate
There is no evidence men identify as transgender to access female-only spaces to commit sexual violence, the Scottish government has said.
Draft legislation to reform and streamline the process for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate was published yesterday.
It would remove the requirement for applicants to provide medical evidence of their diagnosis of gender dysphoria, while retaining a condition that applicants must make a solemn statutory declaration that they have been living in their acquired gender and intend to do so permanently.
A minimum three-month period of reflection between applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate and confirming the application would also be introduced as part of the bill. This would mean applicants must have lived in their acquired gender for a minimum of six months before a certificate is granted.
The legislation would also retain the position that a false statutory declaration is a criminal offence and introduce a new offence of false application — each with a potential punishment of up to two years’ imprisonment.
The minimum age of potential applicants would be reduced from 18 to 16 as part of the proposals, which will attempt to build greater consensus on a hugely controversial issue that has polarised opinion and divided the SNP.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, the social security secretary, acknowledged that some organisations have made women feel “uncomfortable and less safe” in their attempts to be inclusive to transgender people.
However, the consultation stated: “The Scottish government has not identified any evidence supporting a link between women-only spaces being inclusive of transgender women and non-trans men falsely claiming a trans identity to access these spaces and commit sexual violence.”
Other sources reiterated their view that there was a lack of any evidence to support this claim.
Ms Somerville said: “Women’s rights and protections will be as strong under this bill as they are today, as we remain committed to protect, respect, and advance the rights of women and girls. We are not proposing to change the Equality Act
or the exceptions within it that protect single sex spaces and services.”
For Women Scotland, a feminist group, suggested that voices opposed to the proposals had so far been ignored.
A spokeswoman said the group would consider the consultation paper thoroughly before formulating a full response, adding: “It is of great concern that since the consultation announcement in June the Scottish government has not met with any women’s groups, other than those it funds and who are broadly in agreement with the proposals. Alternative viewpoints and concerns on the issue of self-identification of sex have not been heard and brings into question the cabinet secretary’s wish to reach consensus.”
Lynn Welsh, head of legal at the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland, welcomed the consultation, which will close in March, stating: “This bill offers a welcome opportunity to remove unnecessary practical barriers trans people face in securing legal recognition of their gender identity.
“Nothing in the bill will threaten the continued operation of the Equality Act provisions protecting women-only services and spaces, which recognise the particular needs of women and the need for protection from sex-based violence.”
Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Greens co-leader, said: “The proposals will simply make life easier for trans people who want to get their paperwork sorted out and this has already been done in other countries successfully.”