A member of the public recently attended the school’s transgender training webinar for teachers. As expected, much of the content is of concern, in that it unquestionably affirms gender identity ideology and breaches the Equality Act provision for single-sex facilities. The host from LGBT Youth Scotland also revealed that the long overdue replacement transgender guidance for schools will be published shortly and that, contrary to the Cabinet Secretary’s statement, it has not been written by the Scottish Government, but is an extension of LGBT Youth’s current guidance – which was previously deemed “not legal” by Ministers.
We were also rather surprised to see several pupils on the webinar video, given that it was a staff training session. This was particularly worrying given the lax security around signing up for the webinar.
Sadly, today we have seen something of a push-back on Twitter to the amendment to the Forensic Medical Services Bill, including some unpleasant comments or misrepresentations of the motivation of the brave women who raised this as an issue in the first instance.
One of these dirty tactics has been to suggest this is an attempt to derail the whole bill. This is disgraceful fear mongering. The bill is, in the main, excellent & will make things a little easier at a terrible time. No one wishes this not to pass – they just want it perfect.
It has also been said that it doesn’t matter if sex or gender is used. In fact, sex is legally defined and gender is not (although orgs and Gov accept it is distinct from sex), so, if you want legal clarity and for the bill to be future-proofed, it really does matter.
The Bill aims to improve services for those who have experienced rape or sexual assault by allowing access to a forensic medical examination without the need to report to the police. It was clear from the evidence given to the Health and Sport Committee at Stage 1 that it was very important to victims to be able to access a female medical examiner.
A gender aggravator to crimes was first mooted in the Draft Criminal Code for Scotland some seventeen years ago. Later the same year Robin Harper MSP lodged an amendment to the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 to make provision for offences aggravated by disability, sexual orientation, age and gender. Mr Harper’s amendment was not accepted but did lead to the establishment of a Working Group to further consider what improvements could be made to hate crime legislation.
Members of this Working Group included representatives from Equality Network, Stonewall and Engender. 102 individuals and groups responded to the main consultation (although both Engender and Scottish Women’s Aid withheld their submissions from publication). A Hate Crime Report was published in October 2004 detailing 14 recommendations for the Government – protection for transgender identity was in, along with sexual orientation and disability, but women were out.
The minutes of the meetings of the Working Group seem to be lost to the archives but the final report does indicate that a number of women’s groups called for the characteristic of gender to be added, in opposition to the views of the Scottish Executive’s Violence Against Women Unit:
On Tuesday 24th November For Women Scotland will give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee on the controversial Hate Crime and Public Order Bill.
In our written submission, we made clear our objection to Part 2 of the bill, which seeks to extend the offence of stirring up hatred, but also our objection to the non-inclusion of ‘sex’ as a protected characteristic.
There have already been three oral evidence sessions and we have been closely monitoring the discussions.
Across the three sessions, there have been a total of 32 witnesses, two thirds of whom were men. The Committee, of course, has limited control over the make-up of the panels, but we note that, once again, women have been outnumbered in discussions about an important aspect of law reform that will impact them.
At Engender’s AGM on Saturday, the CEO, Emma Ritch made an interesting comment: “I would like to be clear here that Engender is not funded for a huge amount of engagement and are not presenting our work as advocating on behalf of the members or as representative of women. The colleagues at the Scottish Women’s Convention are funded in this way and we are glad to hear from members but our work is quite technical. I would not want to give the impression that membership privileges certain perspectives above others.”
The following was posted as a long thread on our Twitter account 29 June 2020:
The past 24 hours have seen another fab thread from @jk_rowling which, inevitably, resulted in further abuse. However, senior politicians in Scotland have been more focused on promoting a post from Teddy Hope, a non-binary member of @theSNP.
The unverified account from Hope about a meeting which took place several months ago has been countered by members of @WomensPledge who were also present.
We have submitted our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act as follows. A pdf copy can be downloaded here.
Question 1 Do you have any comments on the proposal that applicants must live in their acquired gender for at least 3 months before applying for a GRC? Yes ✓ No ☐ If yes, please outline these comments.
There is no clear definition in the consultation paper as to what living in an acquired gender means and the draft Bill removes the current requirement to provide evidence that this criteria has been met. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 defines the “acquired gender” as the gender in which the person is living, which, without a definition of “gender”, is both circular and meaningless. If the law is to be reformed it is essential that this term is clarified, particularly if an applicant is expected to declare under oath, subject to a potential criminal offence, that they meet this requirement.