While we are cautiously pleased to see that the statement by Liz Truss has committed to single sex spaces, we would like more clarity on how the Government intends to strengthen and enforce the Equality Act, esp in the face of the continued determination by activists to undermine the law.
This is of especial concern to women in Scotland where the Scottish Government and their funded organisations have introduced law and policy which mean that the provisions for single sex services and spaces are almost impossible to invoke.
We believe that for equality law to have any meaning, it should not be possible for organisations, councils or devolved powers to opt in or out of it. Nor should the enforcement depend on the whim of activists. It must be consistent and defined.
It should not, for example, be possible for organisations to claim they are “single sex” but to allow anyone access on the basis of self ID. It should not be possible for legal and biological males to take jobs or opportunities reserved for women.
Women should not face disciplinary action or termination of employment for saying sex is real. Organisations should not decide their policy of self ID overrides law and refuse access to groups who wish to uphold Equality Act exceptions. All this is happening, and, in Scotland, getting worse.
We hope bothGovernments will address this and this will mark the end of “Stonewall law”: to this end we hope that proper, robust guidance on the Equality Act will be issued swiftly. We look forward to tomorrow’s Q&A in expectation that some of this will be covered.
Scottish Government Faces Judicial Review for redefining “Woman” to Include Men
Re: Gender Representation on Public Boards Act 2018
On 31st July 2020, a pre-action letter was sent to the Scottish Government by lawyers acting on behalf of For Women Scotland expressing significant concerns that a law intended to address historical under-representation of women on public boards is fundamentally flawed and that the Scottish Government has exceeded its authority in redefining “woman”.
The government responded on 19th August, saying they are “satisfied that the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 and subordinate legislation made and statutory guidance published under it are within legislative and devolved competence.”
Although disappointed the matter could not be resolved informally, For Women Scotland have instructed solicitors Balfour + Manson to lodge a petition to proceed with a judicial review. This has now been registered and accepted by the Court of Session.
The Delegated Powers Memorandum for the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill contains a clause that states: “Regulations under this section may modify section 14 (meaning of the characteristics) by adding interpretative provision relating to the characteristic of sex. They may also make incidental, supplementary, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision, and make different provision for different purposes.”
This means that if the characteristic of “sex” is added to the Hate Crime legislation at a later date then it can be redefined by a Committee, without public consultation or Parliamentary scrutiny, and may differ from the definition given in the Equality Act:
We sent the following email to Jeane Freeman, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, on 14th August, regarding the new Supporting Trans Staff in the Workplace Policy in NHS Lanarkshire. A copy was also sent to Heather Knox, the interim Chief Executive of NHS Lanarkshire.
We sent the following email to Richard Leonard, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, on 13th August, calling for him to support Jenny Marra MSP.
Dear Mr Leonard,
We are writing to register our disgust at the bullying tactics of Labour affiliated group LGBT Labour Scotland targeted at Jenny Marra MSP.
For Women Scotland is a feminist grassroots group which campaigns to protect the rights of women and children, and in particular, women’s sex-based rights as currently enshrined in UK law. We formed initially to oppose the Scottish Government’s proposals to enable individuals to change their legal sex based on a statutory declaration (often referred to as ‘gender self-identification’ or self-ID). The Government has undertaken two consultations on these reforms in 2017 and 2019, but has paused its plans for the time being due to the pandemic.
We were delighted that UK Labour’s 2019 manifesto contained a commitment to “ensure that the single-sex-based exemptions contained in the Equality Act 2010 are understood and fully enforced in service provision”, as well as a commitment to end mixed sex wards. And we were incredibly grateful that Jenny Marra, Elaine Smith and Johann Lamont sponsored a series of events in the Scottish Parliament at the start of this year to enable debate about reform of the Gender Recognition Act and how those reforms might interact with women’s sex-based rights under the Equality Act.
Many public authorities have moved ahead of the proposed law change and introduced self-ID policies. For instance, the Scottish Prison Service’s transgender prisoner policy states that if a male prisoner identifies as a woman, there is a presumption that he would be accommodated in the female prison estate. Many NHS boards have also adopted policies based on self-ID principles.
It appears that NHS Lanarkshire have recently published a policy on supporting trans staff. We are concerned that in drawing up this policy, NHS Lanarkshire have not taken into account the impact on women. We are also concerned that it uses terminology such as ‘assigned at birth’. Women are oppressed on the basis of their sex, which is immutable and observed (not assigned) at birth. It was this point that Jenny Marra highlighted in her tweet:
Scottish Government Faces Court Action for Redefining “Woman” to Include Men
Re: Gender Representation on Public Boards Act 2018
A letter has been sent to the government by lawyers acting on behalf of For Women Scotland expressing significant concerns that a law intended to address historical under-representation of women on public boards is fundamentally flawed and that the Scottish Government has exceeded its authority in redefining “woman”. This follows the publication of Statutory Guidance on 29 May 2020.
Sick and tired of being banned from social media and cancelled for telling the truth, women are taking back the public square, one corner at a time.
At 2pm on Sunday 2nd August, women will gather at the foot of the Mound/Princes St in Edinburgh, reviving the tradition of free speech at the site of the historical Speakers’ Corner.
In the current climate of cancel culture, there is a new urgency to demonstrate the right to free speech. Women will describe how they have been harassed, threatened, silenced and fired for daring to define themselves.
Social distancing will be strictly observed and guest speakers will also be live streamed on For Women Scotland YouTube for those who prefer to stay at home.
After the live stream ends, all women are invited to speak for approximately 2 minutes.