Letter to Minister for Equalities

Further to the publication of the results of the public consultation on the Implementation of Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, we sent the following letter to Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities on 6th May:

Dear Ms McKelvie,

Re: Consultation on Implementation of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018

Now that the analysis of responses to the above consultation has been published could you please provide an expected date for when the Government will be issuing a formal response to its outcome?

Given that this was the first time the public were consulted on the way in which the Act defined “woman” it is clear that there is substantial opposition to both this, and to the proposed guidance.  We would appreciate clarification on whether the Government intends to proceed with enforcement of the Act and, if so, the reasons for doing so. 

In addition, we would be interested in what legal advice has been given to the Government as to whether it is lawful to redefine the protected characteristics of the Equality Act in discrete legislation.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Trina Budge

Update 28 June 2020: We have not received any response from the Minister and the Statutory Guidance was published (without any Government response to the consultation) on 2nd June.

Update 30 June 2020: We received the following reply from the Equality Unit:
(as a pdf)

which did not provide a response to the questions we asked. We replied with the following email:

Update 13 July 2020: MSPs who wrote to Chritina McKelvie passed on the following response to constituents:
(as a pdf)

Update 31 July 2020: We received the following reply from the Equality Unit:
(as a pdf)

To summarise: Despite asking a specific question in the consultation about terminology, the Scottish Government admit they purposefully discarded the responses. And they believe the definitions only apply to the GRPB Act, so presumably did not take any legal advice. Had they done so, it might have been realised that it’s the other way round – and the provisions of the Equality Act absolutely affect the GRPB Act as they are the basis on which any “positive action” is taken regarding equal opportunities – and mixing various aspects of different protected characteristics is incompatible.