NICOLA Sturgeon has said she has not heard a single “persuasive or compelling” argument that Scotland’s gender reform legislation would have an impact on the Equality Act.

The First Minister reiterated the Scottish Government’s commitment to do “everything” to defend legislation designed to make it easier for people to change their legal gender.

The UK Government issued a Section 35 Order in a bid to veto the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from becoming law, citing its potential impact on projections contained in UK-wide equalities law.

Asked about the blocking of the law and its impact on equality law by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Sturgeon said: “I have not heard any argument about the impact on the Equality Act that I find in any way persuasive or compelling because the act does not change the legal effect of a Gender Recognition Certificate.

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“What the UK Government has done has just veto it, an instruction to the presiding officer that the bill can’t be sent for Royal Assent.

“So if the argument of the UK Government was that there’s an issue that needs to be decided in court, the route they have chosen to take doesn’t actually do that.

“They are exercising some kind of governor-general like power to block a democratic decision.”

The bill was backed overwhelmingly in Holyrood by MSPs from across all the political parties.

The First Minister also said that the new laws was supported by most of the major women’s organisations in Scotland.

She explained that the proposals were “exactly the same” as plans under Theresa May and added that the UK Government did not raise any concerns with the Scottish Government when the bill was being debated.

The National: The FM said she still has 'plenty left in the tank' The FM said she still has 'plenty left in the tank'

The First Minister also accused the Conservative Party of trying to “stoke a culture war” and that their actions were part of a pattern of “seeking to undermine” the Scottish Parliament.

Sturgeon continued: “The fear that women have about predatory men accessing women only spaces to abuse and attack women is very real.
“But this bill does not give a predatory man any more ability to abuse women than that predatory man already has.”

Kuenssberg then asked the First Minister about her time in the role and whether or not she would lead Scotland to independence.

“I would like to think so. I think Scotland’s going to be independent. Of course nobody would believe me if I said I’d rather it was somebody else.

“For me, who the leader is that takes Scotland to independence is less important than Scotland completing its journey to independence”, Sturgeon said.

Asked if it would be her, Sturgeon said: “Yes I do.”

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She was then asked how much she had “left in the tank” following the resignation of Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Sturgeon added: “There’s plenty in the tank at the moment. If I ever reach the point, which she (Ardern) has clearly reached, where I think overall I just can’t give the job everything it deserves then I hope I have the same courage she’s had in saying ‘okay this is the point to go’ but just for the avoidance of all doubt I don’t feel anywhere near that right now. Nowhere near.”