THE publication of a long-awaited consultation on reforms to gender recognition in Scotland has shown that people in Scotland are split on the issue.

Almost 17,000 people more than 200 organisations responded to the consultation which was launched in December 2019 and closed in March 2020.

The draft Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill looks to modify the 2004 Act to introduce a new system for gaining legal gender recognition in Scotland.

The analysis of the 17,058 responses showed just over half (55%) came from people or groups within Scotland, while 32% came from elsewhere in the UK, and 14% from overseas.

The overwhelming majority (16,843) were from individuals, while 215 were from organisations.

The draft bill plans to reduce to six months the time it takes for transgender people to get a certificate recognising their gender.

Applicants would first have to live as their acquired gender for a minimum of three months before seeking a gender recognition certificate, with a further three-month period of “reflection” being required before this can be confirmed.

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An analysis of responses “suggests that a small majority of organisations broadly supported changing to a statutory declaration-based system”, as proposed by the Scottish Government.

Groups backing the reforms included the “considerable majority” of organisations representing children and young people, as well as LGBT groups, trade unions, local authorities and third sector bodies.

However the report acknowledged that “around four in 10 organisations did not support” the changes, and about one in 10 either did not have a view or did not make it clear.

Those who are opposed are “very concerned about the potential impact of the proposed changes on society in general, but on the safety and wellbeing of women and girls in particular”, the analysis found.

This was the perspective of “many individual respondents and the considerable majority of the women’s groups and religious or belief bodies that responded”, it added.

Respondents were also asked whether the age at which an application for legal gender recognition can be made should be reduced from 18 to 16 with 54% of responses supportive of the idea.

However, those from Scotland were more split on changing the age with 49% in favour and 49% against. The report states that 3% said they did not know.

The analysis also shows that some people wanted the Scottish Government to "go further" with the age reduction.

It stated: “It was suggested that as children over 12 are deemed to have legal capacity to make decisions in certain circumstances, this principle could apply to gender recognition.”

The National: Shona Robison sought assurance there would be no obligation to open the NHS in Scotland to private providers                                Photograph: Gordon Terris/ The Herald

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Social Justice Secretary, Shona Robison (above), said that ministers in the Scottish Government were "committed to making necessary changes".

She said: “The Scottish Government is committed to making necessary changes to the Gender Recognition Act to improve and simplify the process by which a trans person can obtain legal recognition. We will do this whilst ensuring we uphold the rights or protections that women and girls currently have under the Equality Act.

“Following a pause to allow resources to be diverted to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, work on the draft bill and its provisions has now resumed. More detail on the Government’s legislative programme will be included in the forthcoming Programme for Government.”

The National: Maggie Chapman

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Scottish Greens equalities spokesperson Maggie Chapman (above) said: “Trans people are one of the most marginalised and victimised groups in Scottish society, and the Scottish Greens are committed to protecting and further their right to exist and be free from demonisation and abuse.

“Reform to the GRA to make their lives easier has had broad cross-party support and this consultation shows broad support from trade unions, services, local councils and the third sector too.

“Now that the consultation responses report has been published we look forward to progressing this overdue reform in parliament, as outlined in the co-operation agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government.”