DISRUPTIVE tactics from Tory MSPs forced the final stage of Holyrood’s Gender Reform Bill into a third day.

At time of publication, MSPs were still going over last minute changes to the reforms, which aim to simplify the process to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

MSPs were in the chamber until 12.15am on Wednesday morning before proceedings were stopped, after Tory politicians called numerous points of order and forced each amendment to go to a vote, even when the proposer had declined to move it themselves. At one point, lights automatically turned off in the Chamber.

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More than 60 of the 153 amendments were voted on in the first sitting, with a final vote expected Wednesday evening.

Just before 8pm on Wednesday, Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone told MSPs: “I can also inform the chamber that business managers have agreed to move items of business, other than consideration of stage three amendments to tomorrow afternoon.”

On Tuesday, the parliament had intended to dispose of 13 groups of amendments by the end of the session. However, with midnight approaching, only 10 groups had been spoken to.

MSPs were still debating the content of the changes of group 13, relating to the interaction of the Equality Act and the reforms, after 6.30pm on Wednesday.

The bill will remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria currently required to receive a gender recognition certificate (GRC), establishing a self-ID model instead.

The National: Amendments proposed by Jamie Greene passed while his colleagues repeatedly disrupted proceedingsAmendments proposed by Jamie Greene passed while his colleagues repeatedly disrupted proceedings

The reforms would also lower the minimum age for applicants to 16 and drop the time required for an applicant to live in their “acquired gender” from two years to three months, with an added three-month reflection period. For GRC applicants aged 16 and 17, the time period was extended to six months at committee stage.

MSPs spoke to a number of amendments on Wednesday afternoon, with proceedings kicking off at 1.15pm. Two Tory amendments did pass, proposed by Jamie Greene, setting out what constitutes a fraudulent application for a GRC.

An amendment by Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy aimed to provide protections for GRC applicants from “manifestly unfounded claims”, essentially that if someone with anti-trans views challenged the legality of a person’s GRC they would not be able to take it to the Sheriff to try and have it rescinded. This did not pass.

Meanwhile, Ash Regan, who resigned from her role as community safety minister ahead of the first stage of the vote, attempted to pass an amendment that stated nothing in the bill would change the definition of “sex” or “man or woman” in the Equality Act. MSPs voted it down with 66 votes for No and 60 for Yes.

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Regan said: “I would say to my fellow parliamentarians – it boils down to this – do you think women will be more or less safe as a result of this law?”

“And if you have any doubt, any doubt at all that it will make women and girls less safe, then you cannot vote for it.”

Green MSP Maggie Chapman intervened in Regan’s contribution to say: “When she says that over 5000 people are not currently eligible, does she accept that actually there will be people in that group that are eligible but have decided not to go through the process because it is demeaning and humiliating?”

When applause erupted from the public gallery where supporters of the reforms were seated, the Presiding Officer asked them not to clap after MSPs’ contributions.

The National: Robison is sponsoring the bill on behalf of the government and urged MSPs to support itRobison is sponsoring the bill on behalf of the government and urged MSPs to support it (Image: PA)

Despite the delaying tactics, the bill is widely expected to pass with support from the SNP, Greens, Labour and LibDems. Two Tory MSPs, Greene and Dr Sandesh Gulhane, did vote in support of the reforms at stage one, while the majority of the party voted against, bar two abstentions.

Speaking ahead of the final consideration of the Bill, Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison urged fellow MSPs to back the legislation.

She said: “Trans rights are not in competition with women’s rights, and as we have seen in the past, rights can be improved for everyone when those discriminated against and who face prejudice work together as allies.

“These reforms are supported by a majority in Parliament and members of all parties. I urge all members to vote in favour of these important reforms on what will be an historic day for equality in Scotland.”