SOCIAL Justice Secretary Shona Robison has told UK equalities minister Kemi Badenoch that gender recognition is a devolved matter at a virtual meeting held as Holyrood prepares to debate the legislation.

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Act has been described as an "admin issue" by many transgender people who say the current process is lengthy, demeaning, and can be expensive.

The reforms would remove the medical requirement and panel process and instead allow trans people to self-identify.

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Badenoch set out her opposition to self-ID during the Tory leadership contest, and there are concerns that the UK Government may launch a legal challenge following the bill passing at stage three as it has cross-party support.

And, as the Scottish Parliament prepares for the final stage of the long-awaited reforms, Badenoch and Robison held an 11th-hour meeting. 

The Scottish Government said Robison provided further clarification on what the bill does and doesn't do and "reaffirmed that this bill does not change anything in the Equality Act, including exemptions". 

A Scottish Government spokesperson added: "We also discussed how the Scottish Government has listened carefully to a wide range of feedback on the nill as it has progressed through Parliament, and has either made or supported a number of amendments at stage 2 to strengthen it. We will do so again at stage 3.

"Legal gender recognition is a devolved matter for which the Scottish Parliament can legislate. It is for other jurisdictions to set their policy on recognising legal gender recognition under current system. People who have already obtained legal gender recognition outside the UK can currently apply in the UK without providing medical advice.

"Scottish and UK officials have been meeting regularly to work together on cross-border issues – and there was an agreement that the two governments would continue to work together following the Bill’s final approval by MSPs."

We previously told how MSPs are braced to "make history" by passing the reforms, with a lengthy nine hours of debates over amendments due to be heard over Tuesday and Wednesday. 

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The first stage of the reforms passed with 88 votes for Yes, 33 for No, four abstentions and four MSPs who did not vote, including Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who is currently on maternity leave.

Nine SNP MSPs voted against, while two Tory MSPs, Jamie Greene and Dr Sandesh Gulhane, voted in support. All Scottish Green MSPs (7), LibDem (4) and the majority of Labour (21), barring Alex Rowley who did not register a vote, backed the reforms.

And, on the eve of the debate, former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dudgale spoke out in support of the gender reforms, suggesting that opponents of the bill had employed "populist tactics".