Gender Recognition Act Consultation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:38 am on 24th September 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Women), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities) 10:38 am, 24th September 2020

Sometimes people are opposed to the human rights of others in case they encroach on their own; it is an almost instinctive human reaction. When we as politicians want to ensure those human rights, it is about not just actions but language and education, so that we all understand each other and we are all in a place where we are happy for others with whom we do not necessarily identify to have equal access to human rights and opportunities. That said, action is crucial, and I am sorry to say that the Minister has failed on that front this week.

I am sorry to say that because the Minister’s language in the past has indicated better, and her failure to take action will have an impact on the many very distressed trans people who have written to me from across the UK. The fact remains that trans people continue to suffer poorer outcomes relative to the wider population, and that needs to change. We are now at a stage, in terms of equality, where the language we use around race, gender and disability, while not perfect, is getting there. Actions have been taken and laws have been written. We need more compliance and enforcement, but at least the laws exist.

This is a devolved matter and, yes, it is complex, but it is not too complex for the Scottish Government, who continue to have a strong commitment to reforming the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland before next May’s elections in 2021. There are many reasons for that. One reason is that everyone surely has the right to be who they are, but we also recognise that we must comply with international human rights law, and the way to do that is to have a system for obtaining legal gender recognition. Do the Minister and her Government recognise the need to comply with international human rights law? Do they care about that? The gender recognition panel takes applications from across the UK, and the Scottish Government will carefully consider what she has said and what it means for Scotland, so will she commit to co-operating with the Scottish Government?