PLANS to reform gender recognition laws in Scotland have been hailed by a UN human rights expert.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, a specialist on gender identity, has urged MSPs to pass the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill which has moved into its final scrutiny stage at Holyrood.

He said UN human rights bodies have “constantly” found legal recognition of gender identity through self-identification is the most “appropriate” way to ensure the enjoyment of human rights.

If the bill is approved – which is anticipated next week - people will not need a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to apply for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) and the time required for an applicant to live in their acquired gender will be reduced.

The age for applying for a GRC would also be lowered from 18 to 16.

It comes after a separate UN expert - special rapporteur Reem Alsalem - claimed violent men could abuse the system.

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Madrigal-Borloz gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the proposals in June and in a letter published on Friday he said the legislation would bring Scotland in line with international human rights standards.

He said: “Through my work in dozens of countries I have witnessed shocking acts of violence to which they are subjected, including killings, torture, beatings, and systematic social exclusion from health, employment, housing, and education.

"United Nations human rights bodies that have spoken on the matter have constantly found that legal recognition of gender identity through self-identification is the most efficient and appropriate way to ensure the enjoyment of human rights, and I am yet to learn of a country in which this is not the case."

He also has expressed concern about "arbitrary obstacles" for legally recognising gender identity. He said such measures contravene human rights obligations, branding them "authoritarian and anti-democratic".

Madrigal-Borloz added that any efforts to water down the proposals could be a sign of prejudice against trans people.

Last week, UK Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch expressed concerns about the reforms in a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, claiming it would create “divergence” between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

It was also reported last week that the UK Government could refuse to recognise gender recognition certificates issued in Scotland and the legislation could end up before the UK Supreme Court.