Call for 'clear heads and open hearts' ahead of final gender law vote

MSPs will consider the remaining amendments to legislation before a final vote on Wednesday.

MSPs urged to vote with ‘clear heads and open hearts’ on gender recognition reform at Holyrood STV News

MSPs have been urged to vote with “clear heads and open hearts” as legislation on gender recognition reform enters its final stretch at Holyrood.

The Scottish Parliament will consider remaining amendments to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill on Wednesday.

It comes after a marathon session of the parliament on Tuesday, with proceedings eventually being called to a close shortly after midnight.

Officials had anticipated that MSPs may have been required to sit until around 2am to get through all of the 153 amendments lodged.

However, following discussions with business managers, Wednesday’s parliamentary schedule was amended to allow consideration of the remaining amendments to continue from approximately 1.15pm.

Among key amendments that have so far been backed by MSPs include one submitted by SNP MSP Gillian Martin.

She had sought to ensure that anyone subject to a sexual harm prevention order, or a sexual offences prevention order, would not be allowed to seek a gender recognition certificate.

An amendment that had aimed to stop the age for those eligible to apply for a certificate being lowered from 18 to 16 did not receive the support of MSPs.

It means that those 16 and over will be able to apply for a gender recognition certificate, with Scotland’s social justice secretary Shona Robison insisting that young people should be able to make their own decisions.

The legislation – which intends to simplify the process for someone to gain a certificate – has been contested fiercely since its introduction.

Opponents of the Bill have warned that it could risk the safety of women and girls, as well as an erosion of sex-based rights.

However, those in support of the changes argue that the rights of women and the rights of trans people do not need to be in conflict.

A final vote on the Bill is expected on Wednesday evening, and is expected to pass due to support from the SNP, the Scottish Greens and Scottish Labour.

But, there has not been unanimity across the chamber on the plans, with a number of MSPs speaking in contrast to the views set out by their own parties.

Ahead of the continuation of proceedings on Wednesday, Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman called on MSPs to “rise above ignorance” in voting on the Bill.

And she described it as a “historic day” in the history of the Scottish Parliament.

“All MSPs need to be very, very mindful of what it is that they are saying, what the impacts of their words may have, and of the consequences of getting this wrong,” said Chapman.

“Over the last six years, trans people have been on the receiving end of one of the most cynical campaigns of disinformation.

“They have endured all types of abuse, much of it from people who are purposefully peddling prejudice, bias and misunderstanding.

“At its worst, this has felt like mob mentality that has been cynically whipped up to target trans campaigners and their allies. We will never abandon our trans siblings, not now, not ever.

“I urge all those taking part in today’s debate and vote to think with clear heads and open hearts. To rise above ignorance and to stand shoulder to shoulder with our LGBTQIA+ community.”

Chapman suggested that a “leap of faith” is required by parliamentarians in changing the law.

She added: “Today is a historic day for our parliament and for equality. By backing this this small but important change we can stand on the side of progress and follow in the footsteps of all those who stood against the wrongs of racism, homophobia and Section 28 and who have helped face down discrimination.

“That is the leap of faith we need today. We must grab this opportunity with both hands, reject the toxic lies and divisive rhetoric and ensure human rights remain at the forefront of our vision of a safe, welcoming and inclusive nation.”

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