Twitter thread re GRA Announcement

Link to Twitter thread: here
Archived here:

The shenanigans of @scotgov regarding the announcement of proposals to reform the GRA are, to say the least, concerning. There are serious questions which now must be answered by @S_A_Somerville and @NicolaSturgeon#sexnotgender#WarOnWomen

First, why are @scotgov hurriedly coming out with an announcement with 2 days notice? Did they give all their MSPs the opportunity to submit a question, including those critical of proposals to date? Or have they tried to stack the deck with sympathetic allies in Parl?

We ask because it is quite clear that certain, unelected, individuals, renowned for their abusive behaviour on Twitter and privileged links to those in power are claiming to have superior inside information. #WarOnWomen

These people have threatened to use “influence” to have MSPs deselected. They are foul-mouthed bullies and yet, apparently, instead of backing respected members of their own party, someone within @theSNP or @scotgov is leaking like a rusty bucket.

We hope that the opposition MSPs are ready at least, to hold the gov to account for this shambolic, ill-judged attempt to deflect attention from the lack of Equality Assessments or proper consultation with a broad range of groups in advance of the consultation doc. #WarOnWomen

Perhaps too, they could highlight the lack of impact assessments, the policy capture & the deliberate conflation of sex and gender in the consultation – acknowledged by senior civil servants – at the behest of Equality Network and others. #SexnotGender

This consultation was, mendaciously, framed solely as a positive LGBT issue, ignoring the impact on women’s rights and the impact on definitions of sexuality which could harm lesbian and gay rights. #sexmatters

No doubt, @S_A_Somerville will repeat the empty mantra “international best practice”. Yet self ID is used in very few countries – some hardly beacons of women’s rights. They use different legislation – Ireland for example has clear policies where sex exceptions are to be used.

No doubt, she will argue the Equality Act 2010 will protect women’s spaces. But EA is proving inadequate. This is partly due to poor drafting & conflation of sex & gender in the GRA & EA. This question regarding impact of GRA on EA needs to be answered.

It’s also due to the relentless pressure & misrepresentation by groups like Equality Network, who argue that “legal” sex is the protected characteristic in the Equality Act:

Tim Hopkins, EN, claimed in submission to @ScotParl “In a nutshell, “sex” in the Equality Act refers to legal sex, not biological sex at birth, and in the case of trans people these two may be different.” …

They have lobbied to remove the sex based protections in the act, now they are determined to redefine “sex” which, they claim is not distinct from gender in any legislation. #WarOnWomen …

Tax-payer funded groups like EN, of course, have the government’s ear. They are supposed to lobby for lesbians as well as trans people, just as @EngenderScot is supposed to represent women. However, all these publicly funded bodies are suspiciously uniform in holding party line.

In any clash of rights issue, one would expect – indeed hope for – some disagreement & that policy arose from discussion. Instead, they resolutely failed to engage. If they are all simply feeding back to @S_A_Somerville the gov line, it’s no wonder a catastrophic mess is brewing.

FWS have been attempting to set up a meeting with @NicolaSturgeon or @S_A_Somerville for several months. We are now the largest women’s rights org in Scotland & they owe the women (and men) we represent the courtesy of hearing our concerns and answering outstanding questions.

We have yet to hear back from them with a date for a meeting. It is not feasible to claim they have consulted widely if they ignore all evidence & orgs which have concerns. If they have misplaced the communication, we can supply copies of the email trails.

They also owe attention to @WG_Scotland – the only group to date to have undertaken a proper impact assessment or surveyed the users of women’s services. There is a dereliction of duty at the heart of gov & women’s services. They can find copies here:

We ask, again, that you meet us to understand and address our concerns. We will be watching from the gallery at Parl tomorrow – women are rearranging commitments taking holiday days, finding childcare at short notice because of the strength of feeling on this issue. #sexmatters

FWS has grown rapidly in under a year. We have no funding, bar small individual donations, we have no staff or premises, all we have is the determination of women who will not be silenced on this, the biggest attempt to reverse progress and push back our rights in a generation.

That determination will not be quashed. We don’t have money for drinks parties at parliament, but we will oppose any & all attempts to drive women from precious, hard-won spaces or to codify in law the sort of sexist stereotypes women fought against for generations #WarOnWomen

More are coming to us every day. Many, across the country, are still unaware of the practical implications of policies in countries such as Canada or within our own prison service. When they learn, they are rightly horrified that women’s safety is held so cheap by @scotgov

Our message to @S_A_Somerville & @NicolaSturgeon is that you cannot ignore voices of opposition forever. Women, men, girls, mothers, fathers are waking up to the reality of these proposals, along with the results of attempts to preempt legislation and make self ID de facto.

Our group’s membership cuts across barriers of class, age and politics. Some backed Independence, some are Unionists. We all are puzzled, however, why an @theSNP FM seems determined to risk her party’s biggest prize in pursuit of something that may well be her Poll Tax.

Over the summer, we will be leafleting and raising awareness – if you can help us, join us.

A couple of addenda. Why is this not an ongoing concern for these orgs?

Also @LucyHunterB on why GRA does impact EA is always useful for those new to this:

Excellent @caithness_pf thread on the only time women’s orgs actually consulted on mixed sex services.