Dear MSPs…from survivors

The following letter was sent to all MSPs on 09 December, regarding the Lamont amendment to the Forensic Medical Service Bill to ensure survivors of rape and sexual assault are afforded the right to choose the “sex”, and not “gender” of their medical examiner:

Dear Members of the Scottish Parliament,

We are a group of female survivors of male sexual violence and we are writing to you all to express our support for Johann Lamont’s amendment to the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) Bill and to share our disappointment that Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) has submitted a briefing opposing this amendment. In our view this briefing misrepresents the importance of the amendment and survivors’ understanding of the bill.

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Letter to Health and Sport Committee

Following the confusion about sex and gender after media reports on the Committee’s meeting to scrutinise the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill, we wrote the following letter to the Committee on 26th June. It has now been published on the Committee’s page. A copy has also been sent to the Sex and Gender in Data Working Group.

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Letter to Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee

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:

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Letter to Richard Leonard

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:

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Letter to Minister for Equalities

Further to the publication of the results of the public consultation on the Implementation of Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, we sent the following letter to Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities on 6th May:

Dear Ms McKelvie,

Re: Consultation on Implementation of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018

Now that the analysis of responses to the above consultation has been published could you please provide an expected date for when the Government will be issuing a formal response to its outcome?

Given that this was the first time the public were consulted on the way in which the Act defined “woman” it is clear that there is substantial opposition to both this, and to the proposed guidance.  We would appreciate clarification on whether the Government intends to proceed with enforcement of the Act and, if so, the reasons for doing so. 

In addition, we would be interested in what legal advice has been given to the Government as to whether it is lawful to redefine the protected characteristics of the Equality Act in discrete legislation.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Trina Budge
Forwomen.Scot

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Women’s Rights and Academic Freedom – Part 2

On January 21st we published this blog post telling the sorry tale of how the University of Edinburgh is systematically promoting an uncritical acceptance of gender identity ideology, while allowing critical discussion of that ideology to be closed down. We included in that post nine questions we sent to University managers, some of which related to the postponed event on gender diversity in schools, and some of which related to the wider questions about academic freedom raised by the Guardian article on 14/01/20.

At the end of last week we received an answer from Gavin Douglas, Deputy Secretary of the University. His email, which would appear to be a circular one since we know others have received identical mails, answered none of the nine questions we’d asked. Nor did it indicate that university management have any interest in dealing with the problems documented in our last blog post.

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Women’s Rights and Academic Freedom

According to the tenets of gender identity ideology, every individual has an inner gendered self which manifests as gender identity (a sense of maleness or femaleness) – and this gender identity is the only accurate way of categorising an individual as a man, a woman, both or neither. Under this ideology, biological sex is reduced to a social construction and only gender identity is real. Such a way of thinking clearly has major implications for women’s rights which have been won on the basis of sex, and for the education and safeguarding of children.

You might think that universities are the very places where ideologies with far-reaching consequences can be critically examined, where arguments and counter-arguments based on evidence can be advanced, and where respectful discussion about ways forward in fields like law, criminal justice, health, education and social work can take place. But you would be wrong.

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