A ROW over the legal definition of “woman” in Scotland is set to go to the Supreme Court.

In 2021, campaign group For Women Scotland (FWS) took the Scottish Government to court over its definition of “women” in the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act. 

The law seeks to ensure that non-executive members on public boards are made up of at least 50% women.

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The Scottish Government had initially defined “women” as those living as women or those who intended to or already gone through the process of legal gender recognition.

But FWS argued that this did not line-up with the separate definitions of women and transgender women in the Equality Act.

After losing the initial judicial review FWS were then successful on appeal, which resulted in the Scottish Government changing the definition in the Act.

It now states that “woman” is defined by the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act 2004, meaning those with a full GRC can legally be defined as women for the purposes of the legislation.

The National: The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about the definition of woman in Scottish legislationThe Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about the definition of woman in Scottish legislation (Image: PA)

But FWC remained unhappy with the definition and called for a second judicial review, with their lawyer, Aidan O’Neill KC, arguing that allowing transgender people to change their legal sex with regards to the Equality Act would “run a coach and horses through the preservation of safe spaces for women and single-sex provision for women”.

This review was defeated in December 2022, with an appeal lost in November 2023.

However, on Friday the campaign group announced that their permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court had been accepted.

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The court said they were satisfied “the issue of the correct interpretation of, and interplay between, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and Equality Act 2010, in particular in relation to the use of the term 'woman' and as to the consequence of the grant of a GRC under the 2004 Act, raise issues which involve arguable points of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the UKSC at this time.

“On that basis we are satisfied that leave should be granted”.

For Women Scotland said they intend to set up a CrowdJustice fundraiser to cover legal costs of the appeal.