Humza Yousaf has been warned by one of his own MSPs that he faces a “humiliating defeat” after he announced plans to take the UK Government to court over the blocking of Scotland’s gender reform bill.
Ash Regan, who ran against the First Minister in the SNP leadership election, said the Gender Recognition Reform Bill is “deeply unpopular” among the public.
The Edinburgh Eastern MSP quit her role as community safety minister last October over the bill, which she voted against.
On Thursday, she said it was time for a “re-think on the issue”.
Regan said: “The decision to challenge the Section 35 will result in a humiliating defeat.
“The GRR is deeply unpopular amongst Scottish voters and court action will cost a vast amount of taxpayers money.
“Losing 30k party members over this policy means it’s time for a re-think.”
In March, the SNP announced it had lost 30,000 members over the course of two years, following a battle with the media to release the figures. The membership currently sits at 72,186 people.
There was disagreement between some in the party over why it had lost so many members.
Joanna Cherry, who has been critical of the gender reforms bill, urged the Scottish Government to find a compromise with the UK Government rather than fighting it out in court.
The MP for Edinburgh South West said: “I cannot understand why @scotgov is taking legal action it’s unlikely to win rather than sorting out the problems with the #GRRbill at home.
“Reform could be effected in Scotland without breaching #equality or #HumanRights law if there was the will so to do.”
On Wednesday, social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced the Scottish Government would launch a judicial review against Scottish secretary Alister Jack’s decision to issue a Section 35 order against the gender bill.
She said it was the only “reasonable way” to resolve the issue.
Jack, the first Scottish secretary to use the veto power, said he was “concerned that this legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation”.
At the time, then-first minister Nicola Sturgeon labelled the move a “full-frontal attack” on the Scottish Parliament.
Yousaf, speaking after the announcement on Wednesday, said the “democratic will of Scotland’s Parliament is under attack” and that he has a “duty to defend democracy and devolution”.
The bill is designed to make it quicker and easier for transgender people to change their legally recognised gender.
But some women’s rights campaigners raised concerns about the impact the legislation would have on single-sex spaces for females.
LGBT charities such as Stonewall and Scottish Trans have supported the bill and welcomed Yousaf’s decision to take it to the courts.
Colin Macfarlane, Stonewall’s director of nations, said: “The Gender Recognition Reform Bill simply seeks to make the process for legally recognising a trans man or trans women’s gender more respectful and straightforward and would see Scotland joining an ever-increasing number of Nations around the world that have similar systems.
“The UK Government’s decision to block Scotland’s Bill was an unprecedented move and made clear that they see trans people as a threat to be contained rather than people to be treated with dignity and respect.
“We hope that the legal process concludes swiftly and that governments of the UK focus their attention on positive strategies that support LGBTQ+ communities to thrive.”