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.

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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


Update 28 June 2020: We did not receive any response from the Minister and the Statutory Guidance was published (without any Government response to the consultation) on 2nd June.

Engender

Engender, who describe themselves as Scotland’s feminist organisation, have published an open letter following criticism of themselves and other officially funded women’s groups by MSP Joan McAlpine.

Engender’s opening gambit is to announce that they “neither ‘represent women and girls’, nor make any claim to.” This is quite an admission from a supposedly feminist group and rather begs the question what purpose Engender serves. They state that their “expertise comes from feminist scholarship, evidence drawn from delivery of services and programmes, and work with women and a wide range of women’s groups.” It would appear that Engender’s rather rarified expertise is from a rather narrow version of third wave feminist scholarship, while their “wide range” of women’s groups excludes all those who disagree on points of policy. We should note here that Forwomen.Scot members include those with decades of front line feminist activism – including at Greenham and Faslane and those who campaigned for gay rights when the stigma of AIDS overshadowed the community –  as well as lawyers, academics, medics and those involved at the coal face of women’s services.

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Sex Matters

Ahead of the census debate we are concerned that the definitions of male and female in Scots Law and practice need to be robust and that appropriate protections can also be put in place for the trans community through proper data gathering. But conflating sex and gender serves no-one and hurts many.

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Census Briefing Notes

Briefing Notes: Stage One Debate on the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

Background

For Women Scotland was delighted to have had the opportunity to give evidence at committee stage regarding proposed changes to the 2021 census.

We fully support the proposal to gather data with regard to gender identity and sexual orientation and, due to the sensitive nature of these questions, that this should be done on a voluntary basis. The census is an ideal way to gather detail on small populations to better enable provisions.

The committee also considered calls to conflate sex and gender identity within the compulsory M/F question or to add the category “other”. The Stage 1 report was clear in recommending that these characteristics should remain distinct and that a non-binary option should not be added.

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Women and Girls in Sport

As part of their monthly spotlight ‘Have your say’ section, the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls requested feedback from individuals and groups on the topic of Women and Girls in Sport.  They asked:

  • What are the biggest equality issues, in Scotland, around women and girls in sport?
  • What needs to change, in Scotland, to improve opportunities for women and girls in sport?
  • What actions should NACWG recommend to improve gender equality in sport, in Scotland?

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