The Scottish Government was wrong to reject amendments to controversial gender reforms, but Labour was right to back the Bill, Anas Sarwar has said.
The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed by MSPs in December before being blocked by the UK Government.
The legislation would have made it easier for transgender people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC), but critics warned it could impact on the rights of women and girls.
Amendments tabled during the process that would have stopped those charged with sexual offences from obtaining a GRC, as well as protecting single sex space exemptions were rejected.
Speaking to the PA news agency on Saturday, Mr Sarwar insisted his party was still right to back the Bill, despite saying the government was wrong to block the amendments.
“I would hope that the SNP have learned over the past few weeks that they were wrong to reject the amendments around sex offenders, they were wrong to reject the amendments around those who were on trial and they were wrong to reject the amendments around protecting single sex spaces in particular circumstances and I hope they can reflect on that,” he said.
But when asked if his party was right to vote in favour of the Bill without the changes being made, he said: “I think we were right.
“We made clear that this wasn’t the form of Bill that we would have brought forward if we were in government, this was an SNP Bill not a Labour Bill – they’re the government, they bring forward legislation.
“We were right to get the amendments we did, we were right to get the safeguards in we did, I think we were right to support removing the inhumanities of the GRC process, but there is still work to do.”
Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy proposed an amendment at stage two of the Bill which inserted a provision saying the legislation would not have any impact on the Equality Act.
Asked what he thinks the future of the Bill should be, Mr Sarwar said he wanted both the UK and Scottish governments to “knock their heads together” and work in good faith to come to a solution.
“Right now it feels like everyone has lost – I don’t think anyone in our trans community feels any more protected since the passing of the GRR Bill and I don’t think the women who had legitimate concerns feel reassured since the passing of the GRR Bill,” he said.
“So, therefore, a good faith approach, where we try and move forward to try and build consensus and find a way through (is needed).”
Mr Sarwar earlier suggested to journalists that the Section 35 order from the UK Government – which blocked the Bill from achieving Royal Assent – should be rescinded while the differences between the two governments on the legislation are resolved.
The Scottish Government has until mid-April to challenge the order in court, with ministers repeatedly saying they planned to defend the legislation “vigorously”.
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