Nicola Sturgeon has said her rights as a woman are “not diminished in any way” by the extension of trans rights.
The former first minister told an audience at an awards ceremony in London she would “never, ever give in to the attempt to divide and rule” on gender reform in Scotland, adding she “will always remain a strong, unflinching, unyielding ally” to the LGBT+ community.
Sturgeon collected the gong for “celebrity ally of the year” at the Rainbow Honours Awards, joined by a “travelling squad of Scottish lesbians”.
Current FM Humza Yousaf has asked judges to review Scotland secretary Alister Jack’s use of a Section 35 order to block the introduction of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, passed by Holyrood last year.
The Bill, which makes it easier for transgender people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate, was backed by a majority of MSPs from across Scotland’s parties and was proposed by Sturgeon almost seven years ago.
It simplifies the process of legally changing someone’s gender and would mean no medical diagnosis would be required, would also cut the time a person would need to live in their acquired gender from six to three months, and make it easier for 16 and 17-year-olds to enter the process.
But some women’s groups objected to the changes, issuing concerns over its impact on single-sex spaces such as women’s prisons and refuges.
Sturgeon was presented with her award by SNP MP Hannah Bardell, beating singer Beverly Knight to the prize.
In her acceptance speech, she told the crowd the “path to equality was not linear,” though added she would continue to fight for equality until she was “blue in the face”.
“I’m joined tonight by my travelling squad of Scottish lesbians. Everyone should have a travelling squad of Scottish lesbians. That’s just a bit of free advice for everybody in the room,” she said.
“This is a celebration, but it’s a celebration as we have heard from others this evening that comes with a moment of reflection and perhaps a moment of warning.
“So there are two things I want to say to you this evening, and I know you don’t need to hear this from me, but I’m going to say it anyway.
“Firstly, the progress towards equality is not linear, it is not one-directional, it can go backwards as well as forwards, and this is a moment when we must be strong in making sure it continues to go forwards.
“And firstly, we must do that, we must do that in a united manner. We must not, never, ever give in to the attempt to divide and rule. I have, or it feels as if I have said this in Scotland until I am blue in the face.”
She added: “Let’s see if it ultimately proves to be effective, but I will not stop saying it ever. My rights as a woman are not diminished in any way, by the enhancement of the rights of trans men and women. Never, never, never, let anyone tell you otherwise.
“So this is a moment for unity, it is a moment for solidarity, it is a moment for strength and for courage. And this room tonight exemplifies courage often in the face of adversity.
“So the last thing I would say this evening, in with honour and a great deal of privilege and humility in accepting this award, is that for as long as there is a breath in my body, and I hope that is for some time yet to come, I will always be an ally, a strong, unflinching, unyielding ally.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country