SCOTTISH Tories have been accused of trying to “disrupt” and “delay” parliamentary proceedings as a lengthy session on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill gets underway.

As the session began on Tuesday afternoon, MSPs put forward a series of points of orders and amendments to the week's business agenda before amendments on the actual bill could be heard. 

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone said several of the points of orders were not matters for her, but for the Parliamentary Bureau. Those included concerns over long sitting hours for the debate for new parents, and calls for the debate to be delayed until after the New Year.

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At one point, proceedings had to be suspended for several minutes after the Tory group failed to circulate their own amendment among members.

George Adam, the Minister for Parliamentary Business, said Tories raising the matters should have discussed their concerns with their business managers prior to coming to the Chamber.

Labour MSP Neil Bibby said it was “evident” that Tories were “wasting time”, generating a large amount of applause in the Chamber.

Green MSP Ross Greer backed that idea online. 

"The afternoon starts with predictable procedural nonsense," he said. "The Tories are trying to filibuster by moving amendments to the business motion (the day's agenda). When the Presiding Officer asked them to read their amendments out, they didn't even have them to hand. Cue a delay."

And SNP communications chief Murray Foote added: "Who would have thought the Scots Tories would do their best to disrupt a parliament they would prefer did not exist? Even Tory MSP Sue Webber didn't have her own party's amendment."

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Green councillor Blair Anderson said it was "genuinely quite a sad day for democracy".

"They've lost the argument, they're going to lose the vote, and they can't handle it," he tweeted.

Reacting online, Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said: "After more than an hour of delaying tactics, we are finally into the debate on amendments. Those who have tried to delay this bill at every step of the way have behaved shamelessly, and continue to do so."

Discussion on procedural matters went on for over an hour. Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton rose to speak saying "sorry to delay proceedings", prompting groans from other members.

More than 100 amendments to the bill are to be heard over Tuesday and Wednesday before the legislation is expected to pass. Chamber business could go on until after 10.30pm on Tuesday night.

The National: Members of the Scottish Family Party protest alongside supporters of the Gender Recognition Reform BillMembers of the Scottish Family Party protest alongside supporters of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (Image: PA)

Opposition parties and gender-critical activists have accused the Scottish Government of trying to rush through the bill – a statement which Nicola Sturgeon argued has no “credibility or basis in fact”.

“This process, through consultation, introduction of draft legislation, introduction of legislation, the formal parliamentary scrutiny, it’s been under way now for, I think, a period of six years,” she said.

“This has not been rushed, this has been done carefully, and rightly so.”

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The bill would make it easier for transgender people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) by removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

It will also lower the minimum age for applicants from 18 to 16 and drop the time required for an applicant to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months – six for people aged 16 and 17 – though with a subsequent, three-month reflection period.

Trans rights activists united outside Holyrood on Tuesday urging MSPs to “protect the bill” through the amendment phase.

Beth Douglas, 29, who runs an LGBT+ group, spoke at the demonstration.

The National: Gender Recognition Reform Bill supporters outside the Scottish ParliamentGender Recognition Reform Bill supporters outside the Scottish Parliament (Image: PA)

“What this Bill does is it will allow trans people to do two things,” she said.

“One, it allows us to update our birth certificate.

“There might be two reasons why you want to do that, and that might be because you want your marriage certificate to be in the right gender so when you have your special day, you are not misgendered, which I think is a very low ask.

“And the other, which is personal to me, and why I want a GRC, is there will be a day for everyone when we are issued a death certificate. When that happens for me, I want that death certificate to be in the right gender.

“I would like to rest in peace and die in dignity.”