Press Statement – Review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Analysis of responses to the public consultation exercise
Note: The Scottish Government’s report of 23 Nov 2018 on the GRA consultation is here.
The release of the results of the Scottish Gender Recognition Act consultation has been widely reported as proof that a majority of Scots support moves to allow self-identification of sex. This, of course, runs counter to all opinion polls to date which show overwhelming opposition to this idea. We have good reason to believe this is a gross misrepresentation of the view of the Scottish people.
The reality is that the process passed many women in Scotland by. Forwomen.scot have many serious concerns about the manner in which the consultation was framed and carried out. No women’s groups were invited to advise on the consultation and, consequently, the implications for women’s rights were not considered. The consultation was presented as a solely LGBT issue and although widely circulated in certain sectors, it did not register for many women until the publicity surrounding the consultation in the rest of the UK brought it sharply into focus. Despite this, the responses clearly demonstrate that the majority believe that trans rights should not come at the expense of women’s rights, while 60% acknowledged it would have a profound impact on women.
The women who did respond have clearly told the government that the rights of women and girls must, as a priority, be defended. We have recently seen evidence of the appalling rate of sexual violence and intimidation that women in the UK continue to be subjected to and rising rates of mental health problems in girls. A government who failed to carry out impact assessments on any policy that might exacerbate this dreadful situation, would be negligent in it’s civic duty and would face a sharp backlash from female voters.
Since the consultation closed, we have seen an unprecedented reaction from women all over Scotland who have reached out to us for help. Many feel abandoned and betrayed by government and institutions. We have also been asked for help in protesting decisions of schools and councils who, apparently anticipating a change in law, have implemented policies that in many cases breach existing safeguarding policies and are often illegal. Many parents are horrified by the new Scottish policy for primary and secondary schools, which was written by LGBT Youth and Scottish Trans Alliance and states that children, who identify as the opposite sex, should be allowed to share toilets, changing rooms and sleeping accommodation with children of the opposite sex. Self ID has already had an impact on prison populations where, again advised by Scottish Trans Alliance, the Scottish prison service allows male bodied inmates – including violent offenders – to be housed in the female estate.
We are now speaking to many MSPs from all the Scottish parties who share concerns and are keen that any change in law should be robustly debated and scrutinised. It has become increasingly apparent that a bad law would rebound sharply upon the most vulnerable in society. We believe that it is possible to balance trans rights and women’s rights and remain committed to speaking up for the women of Scotland.