TORY plans to change equality law is part of a “deliberate strategy to undermine the powers of the Scottish Parliament”, First Minister John Swinney has said.

The SNP leader responded to a Tory election promise to define the protected characteristic of sex as “biological sex”.

Kemi Badenoch (below), the UK’s Equalities Minister, also said her party would move to make gender recognition a matter reserved to Westminster while seeking to clarify the Equality Act.

The National: International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch

On Monday, Swinney visited the Graham’s dairy plant in Stirling alongside his candidate Alyn Smith.

Speaking to journalists, he said: “This is just another step in the Conservative attempts to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament. It’s been going on for some time.”

Brexit and the Internal Market Act had weakened Holyrood’s powers, Swinney said.

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He said: “I want the Scottish Parliament to be a parliament that can address all of the issues that affect the lives of people in Scotland.

“So, what the Conservatives are doing today is part of a deliberate strategy to undermine the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”

In an article for The Times, Badenoch said a future Tory government would legislate to strip the Scottish Parliament of its powers to legislate on issues surrounding gender recognition.

She said: “A permanent solution is required to stop devolved governments messing around in this space.

“We are one United Kingdom and it is impracticable for gender recognition regimes to vary in different parts of the country.

“So, we will also legislate to establish that gender recognition is a reserved matter.”

Greens MSP Maggie Chapman said: “Kemi Badenoch and her Tory colleagues have shown a total contempt for the rights and wellbeing of trans people and for Scottish democracy.

“They are a clear and present danger to equality and are prepared to cynically punish and ridicule vulnerable groups and whip up hatred in order to win votes. It is shameful gutter politics.”

She said that the blocked Gender Recognition Reform Act was “one of the most scrutinised and widely consulted bills in the history of devolution” which was backed by MSPs from all parties when passed.

Chapman added: “The fact that other parties are trying to rewrite history and airbrush out their support is concerning.”

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The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed in the Scottish Parliament in 2022 and would have made it easier for transgender people in Scotland to get gender recognition certificates.

The National: Alister Jack

However, it was blocked from becoming law by an unprecedented order under Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, made by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack (above).

In December, the Court of Session ruled the action was lawful despite a Scottish Government challenge.