Consultation Submissions

Here we publish our submissions to Scottish and UK Government consultations, as well as any other consultations we feel it’s important for our voices to be heard.


Scottish Government
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill

Remit: The Equalities and Human Rights Committee (EHRiC) wants to hear your views on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill.

FWS response: On Question 4, anything else we would want to say about the Bill, we wish to note our concern about the recent direction that legislative efforts and policy making by the Scottish Government have taken that adversely impact the rights of women and girls in Scotland by misrepresenting or misusing the protected characteristic of sex in legislation or by replacing it entirely with the concept of gender. We are particularly concerned that this will undermine or slow down any progress made in protecting female children from discrimination, inequality and abuse.

Date of publication: 16 October 2020

File name: CRC-Bill-call-for-views-FWS-response-16Oct2020.pdf File size: 97KB


Scottish Government
Post-legislative Scrutiny: The Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016

Remit: The Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee is seeking views on the operation of the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016.

FWS response: To achieve a much fuller picture of significant lobbying activity, lobbying of any civil servant should be covered by the register. One of the key points from the debate on the Westminster lobbying register was that, very often, the most useful lobbying contacts are not Ministers, but at the lower level of the civil service where the details of policy or draft legislation are developed. We saw this from the shaping of the Gender Recognition Act consultation whereby civil servants in the Family Law team were successfully lobbied by transgender pressure groups to the extent that sex and gender were deliberately conflated and the definition of sex was removed from the documentation. This was contrary to information given by the EHRC and caused a lot of confusion for respondents.

Date of publication: 14 August 2020

File name: Lobbying-Act-call-for-views-FWS-response-14Aug2020.pdf File size: 87KB


Scottish Government
Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill

Remit: The Justice Committee will scrutinise the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill in the coming months. The Committee is therefore asking for views on the Bill.

FWS response: Part 1 of the Bill: Aggravation related to gender was considered some seventeen years ago in the Draft Criminal Code for Scotland and it is quite shameful that its long overdue inclusion in the hate crime framework has, once again, been overlooked…The reluctance to legislate does little to reassure women that long-standing and increasing levels of violence and misogynistic crime are taken seriously, and actually reinforces the harms to women. It should not be the case that women are afforded less protection in hate crime provision than any other protected characteristic.
Part 2 of the Bill: as it currently stands is fundamentally flawed and, unless amendments are made, is inevitably heading towards charges being brought against women for stating universal truths about sex, science and biology.

Date of publication: 19 July 2020

File name: Hate-Crime-Bill-call-for-views-FWS-response-19Jul2020.pdf File size: 271KB


Scottish Government
Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill: A Consultation

Remit: Following on a consultation published in 2017 on the principles of reform, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People announced in the Scottish Parliament in June 2019 that there would be a further consultation, this time on a draft Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.  This is to allow all stakeholders the opportunity to consider and respond to specific proposals.

FWS response: 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.

Date of publication: 17 March 2020

File name: Gender-Recognition-Reform-Bill-Consultation-FWS-response-17Mar2020.pdf File size: 262KB


Scottish Human Rights Commission
Scotland’s second National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP2)

SNAP2 Proposals: We want your views on:

  • the SNAP2 issues that have been identified across 25 themes;
  • the 60+ proposed actions or SNAP2;
  • how your community could support and be involved in SNAP2; and
  • an organisation, governance and resourcing model for SNAP2.

FWS response: FWS welcomes the opportunity to respond to Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights. We have decided to concentrate our submission on Theme 4 (‘Equality and Freedom from Discrimination’), Theme 5 (‘Freedom of Expression’) and Theme 25 (‘Women’s Rights’).

Date of publication: 16 December 2019

File name: SNAP2-FWS-response-16Dec2019.pdf File size: 137KB


National Advisory Council on Women and Girls
September 2019 Spotlight on Sport

Remit from NACWG:

  • What needs to change, in Scotland, to improve opportunities for women and girls in sport?
  • In Scotland, what needs to change to reduce harmful stereotypes for women and girls in sport?
  • What actions should the NACWG recommend to improve gender equality for women and girls in sport?

FWS response: What would undo all of this progress would be to change Scottish sport from objective sex-segregated categories of male and female, to segregation based on, or blurred by, subjective gender identity. I appreciate this is a contentious issue, but we must acknowledge that there are physical differences between someone born male who identifies as a woman, and a natal woman; if there weren’t, then there would be no reason to have males and females competing in separate events. There is a conflict between promoting transgender inclusion and protecting the integrity and accessibility of women’s sports which needs to be sensitively managed. We have already seen male transgender people (transwomen) competing in women’s elite competitions, winning medals and breaking world records. This is not fair. Everyone knows this is not fair on women, especially the girls who we want to encourage into competitive sports. It’s why we have separate categories in the first place. While sport must be open to all genders, it needs to be within the parameters of biological sex.

Date of publication: 24 September 2019

File name: NACWG-Women-and-Girls-in-Sport-24Sep2019.pdf File size: 151KB


Scottish Rugby
Transgender Policy: Non-Binary Players

FWS response: Rugby is an intensely physical game that can be dangerous, there is no doubt.  How is it possible to reconcile allowing males who retain virtually all their significant physical advantage to play against females safely when ALL policies point to a need to separate the sexes by age 12 on safety grounds?
In conclusion, we are firmly of the view that the provisions of the Equality Act should be utilised in full to keep women’s rugby as single sex, for the safety, dignity and fairness of female players.  We are concerned that gender (identity) and sex are becoming conflated in many policy areas to the detriment of women, and agree with the Scottish Government that sex is a distinct category from gender.8

Date of publication: 31 August 2019

File name: Scottish-Rugby-guidance-for-non-binary-players-FWS-response-31Aug2019.pdf File size: 108KB


Scottish Government: Equalities and Human Rights Committee
Draft Budget Scrutiny 2020-21: Call for Views

Remit from EHRiC:

  • What are the key public policy areas where individuals and protected groups are struggling to access their rights?
  • Which groups of people are most likely to be affected and why?
  • What type of public sector funding (European, national or local) is provided to your organisation to support vulnerable groups and those with protected characteristics to access public services?
  • Is the level of public sector funding provided enough to deliver national priorities and better outcomes for people and communities, please provide evidence?
  • Are there public funding challenges for the third sector; if so what would be the implications for delivering equalities and human rights outcomes?  
  • What type of administrative systems are in place to monitor the impact on equalities and human rights outcomes from public sector funding to the third sector?  
  • What changes could be made to improve accountability for national priorities being delivered by the public sector in partnership with the third sector?

FWS response: Funding for groups dealing with VAWG via the Equally Safe fund is conditional on them having a transwomen inclusive policy[6], making it impossible to invoke the single-sex exceptions in the Equality Act. These conditions are highly inappropriate and should be removed. We have observed that even when clauses such as the Genuine Occupational Requirement are quoted in recruitment adverts, they are explicitly inclusive of transwomen[7]. This goes directly against the purpose of the GOR which should ensure that women feel safe in situations where they are vulnerable. We are concerned that women’s legal rights are undermined by the very groups funded, supposedly, to protect them. Currently, therefore, the Scottish Government does not provide funding for any groups who represent women based on the protected characteristic of sex. We believe this is discriminatory.

Date of publication: 23 August 2019

File name: Draft-Budget-Scrutiny-FWS-response-23Aug2019.pdf File size: 229KB


Scottish Government
Consultation on Implementation of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018

Remit: Give views on draft guidance on the operation of the Act and arrangements for reporting on progress

FWS response: We welcome the aspiration to have 50:50 representation. Women are still severely underrepresented in public life. Inequality in senior positions is notable across public bodies, local authorities, education etc. This Act signals intent on the part of the Scottish Government to address this inequality.
The definition of a ‘woman’ in this Act does not mirror the definition in the EA 2010 (“a female of any age” – Section 212).
Women suffer discrimination on the ground of their SEX – UK anti-discrimination law has long recognised this (see SDA 1975, EA 2010). Sex – especially the biological experiences of motherhood – is a key factor in restricting the progress of women throughout their careers. In addition, women are subject to different expectations and experiences from birth and this affects their access to positions of authority and power.

Date of publication: 04 August 2019

File name: Implementation-of-the-Gender-Representation-on-Public-Boards-Act-FWS-response-04Aug2019.pdf File size: 78KB


Scottish Government
Consultation on Scottish Hate Crime Legislation

Remit: Does the Scottish Hate Crime legislation need changed to ensure it is fit for 21st Century Scotland and does it afford sufficient protection for those that need it?

FWS response: The term gender is confusing and there is no consistent understanding of what is encompassed by the term. Is it referring to (a) sex, (b) sex-role stereotypes, or (c) gender identity?
It is therefore not clear who this law is designed to protect. Part Two of the accompanying notes use sex, women (which is a category of sex), gender, sex/gender, and even non-binary in the text. Why would non-binary be included in this category when it is also included in the protected characteristic of transgender?
Using the term ‘gender’ is also problematic as it lacks the basis of a protected characteristic. It would make more sense to align with the language and clear definition as used in the Equality Act, that is, ‘sex’. Professor Rosa Freedman gave evidence to the Parliamentary census committee recently, explaining that international law is quite clear that sex refers to biological sex.

Date of publication: 24 February 2019

File name: Hate-Crime-Consultation-FWS-response-24Feb2019.pdf File size: 55KB


Scottish Government: Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee
Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill: Call for Views

Remit: The Committee seeks views on the proposals contained in the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill including the proposed power in the Bill to provide for questions dealing with “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to be included in the Census for the first time.

FWS response: We welcome the Scottish Government’s proposal to include questions of both sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2021 Census. Both sexual orientation and gender reassignment are protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Gathering data on both characteristics will enable: (a) local and national government to better design, plan and deliver public services, and (b) public authorities to fulfil their obligations as part of the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Date of publication: 23 November 2018

File name: Census-Bill-FWS-response-23Nov2018.pdf File size: 77KB