FWS are delighted by Jeane Freeman’s decision to back Johann Lamont’s amendment to the Forensic Medical Services Bill. This Bill provides for improved services and much needed support and reassurance for survivors of sexual violence. It was overwhelmingly clear from the powerful testimony given at Stage 1 that one of the most crucial things for survivors was the ability to request a female examiner.
During this period, FWS noticed a detail which we felt required attention: while the documents accompanying the Bill, including the SPICe Briefing and the Policy Memorandum refer to the sex of the medical examiner, the Bill’s Explanatory Notes stated that a victim could request that the person carrying out the medical examination be of a specified gender. This originates from Section 9 of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014:
We therefore submitted a letter to the Health and Sport Committee suggesting that clarity would better be achieved by substituting the word sex for gender and the Committee agreed with our recommendation.
At a time when the Scottish Government was considering definitions of sex and gender, we felt it was crucial that this Bill was not, retrospectively, held to mean anything other than allowing women the right to request a female examiner. We also believed that if sex, which is a protected characteristic, were specified it would put an obligation on employers to ensure they used the genuine occupational requirement to recruit female staff.
The subsequent campaign for this amendment has been inspired by the outstanding women who gave evidence and those who wrote yesterday to MSPs. We know how difficult this has been and how much it has cost them to relive their experiences. In legislation and services which deal with the impact of such violence, these women’s voices should always be heard. This campaign has never been about politics or linguistic quibbles – it has, first and last, been about them.
We are also so grateful to Johann Lamont who went into battle for these women and we are thankful to the Health Secretary and all the parliamentarians who decided that six words “for the word gender, substitute sex” could make a world of difference.
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.
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.
Women’s March London have decided to call women ‘menstruators’ and have a handy chart telling us to replace ‘women’s health’ with ‘reproductive health, and ‘mothers and daughters’ with ‘parents and children’. This is inclusive, apparently – yet they fail to notice the glaringly obvious in that women have just been excluded from (almost) all the language they use. I have no idea why they are not the People’s March! https://twitter.com/womensmarchlon/status/1087104151123906561
The Times reports on the independent investigation into the Green party which found that Aimee Challenor, a transgender activist and candidate for the Greens’ deputy leadership, committed a “serious error of judgment” by appointing her father, David, as her agent at two elections even as he faced trial for kidnapping, raping and torturing a 10-year-old girl. http://archive.fo/XJymD
Still in holiday mode so not much to report this week.
Interesting article in the Independent whereby, in newspeak, Maria Miller, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committe, does ‘a reverse ferret’. Apparently, review of the GRA is not the most pressing issue for transpeople, but rather it is access to public services such as healthcare.
Mermaids are not clinicians or experts in child development but political campaigners promoting an ideological and experimental approach to children. They claim the NHS gender clinic, the Tavistock Centre, has a “48% suicide attempt risk” – the clinic says the true rate is less than 1%. And yet they are to be rewarded with a £500K grant from the Big Lottery Fund. Archive: http://archive.is/bW1Ed