AN SNP minister has quit over her opposition to plans to make it easier for transgender people to change their sex on official documents.

Ash Regan held the position of community safety minister for four years and had previously signalled that she had concerns about the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).

She told the First Minister that her “conscience will not allow me to vote” to change the law on Thursday afternoon. 

Nicola Sturgeon said the MSP had never previously raised concerns about the law change. 

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After the vote passed Regan put out a longer comment on why she made her decision.

She said: “I have today taken the difficult decision to resign from my position as minister for community safety as my conscience would not allow me to vote with the Government this evening. I have greatly valued my time in government and regret that I am not able to continue that work.

“I voted against the Gender Recognition Reform Bill at stage one as the issues of concern that I have held and raised for some time have not been addressed as yet.

“I am not against reform per se, however, I cannot support any legislation that may have negative implications for the safety and dignity of women and girls.

“I have long believed that principles in politics are important and that is the case especially when it is difficult.

“I will continue to support my constituents as their representative and continue to make the strong case for Scottish independence.”

MSPs voted on Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill at its first stage on Thursday evening with SNP representatives being told they must support the Government after a free vote on the matter was denied. 

The National: Ash Regan has quit the government over GRA reforms Ash Regan has quit the government over GRA reforms (Image: Scottish Government)

The legislation will make it easier for trans people to change their sex on documents such as their birth certificate by removing the need for a medical diagnosis LGBT campaigners say is distressing. 

Opponents of the legislation have raised concerns it could be used by predatory men looking to access female-only spaces. 

Regan signalled her opposition to changing the law in 2019 by signing a letter, along with 15 other senior SNP figures, calling on the government not to "rush" the changes.

Other signatories included frontbenchers Kate Forbes and Ivan McKee as well as some of the party's MPs. 

In a letter to the FM, Regan said: "I have considered the issue of Gender Recognition Reform very carefully over some time. I have concluded that my conscience will not allow me to vote with the government at the Stage 1 of the Bill this afternoon. 

"Consequently, I am writing to resign my position in the Scottish Government as Minister for Community Safety.  

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"I have greatly valued the opportunity over the last few years to work in Government with colleagues to build a better Scotland." 

Sturgeon said: "I note that at no stage have you approached me - or indeed the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice - to raise your concerns about the Gender Recognition Reform Bill or the vote this evening.

"However, in circumstances in which a minister is unable to support the government, it is the case that the only options available are resignation ahead of the vote or dismissal thereafter. I therefore accept your resignation.

"Thank you for your contribution to the Scottish Government."