Scottish and UK Labour clash over plans for gender reforms

The parties disagree on whether the policy of self-identification should be included in any plans for gender reforms.

Scottish and UK Labour clash over plans for gender reforms Getty Images

Scottish Labour has confirmed it remains in favour of self-identification for trans people changing their gender after the UK party announced it opposes the policy.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party said it would retain the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria – currently needed for a gender recognition certificate.

During his leadership campaign, Starmer said he supported self-identification but on Monday his shadow minister for women and equalities said a Labour government would not.

The announcement puts the UK party at odds with those north of the border.

Scottish Labour MSPs voted overwhelmingly for the Scottish Government’s gender reforms last year – which included self-ID.

Writing in The Guardian, Anneliese Dodds said her party would update the current process if it formed the next UK Government.

Anneliese Dodds said a Labour government would not implement the policy of self-ID for trans people.

She described the current system as “intrusive, outdated and humiliating”.

But the party’s reforms would not include a policy of self-ID, she said, as she criticised the SNP’s attempt to change the laws around changing gender in Scotland.

She said: “Last year, the SNP’s cavalier approach to reforming gender recognition laws seemed to be more about picking a fight with Westminster than bringing about meaningful change.

“The safeguards that were proposed to protect women and girls from predators who might abuse the system were simply not up to scratch.

“As a result, the Scottish Government is still picking up the pieces, with trans rights no further forward.”

She said her party “will not make the same mistakes”.

She continued: “The requirement to obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria remains an important part of accessing a gender recognition certificate.

“That’s especially the case now that gender dysphoria is no longer classified – and stigmatised – as a psychiatric disorder. It can help refer trans people into the NHS for support services – nearly a quarter of trans people don’t know how to access transition-related healthcare.

“Requiring a diagnosis upholds legitimacy of applications and confidence in the system.”

Richard Leonard said Scottish Labour will remain in support of gender self-ID.Getty Images

Richard Leonard, the former leader of Scottish Labour, said his party’s position remains “clear”.

He said: “We support self-ID for trans people and oppose the UK government’s attempt to block the necessary reform we voted for.”

Labour MSP Monica echoed Leonard’s remarks, saying: “Labour has a proud history of advancing LGBTQ equality and women’s rights. To build on that, we must overcome fear and hate.

“The Scottish Labour manifesto rightly makes clear that our policy is to reform the Gender Recognition Act to demedicalise the process.”

The Scottish Labour Party whipped its MPSs and backed the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform bill, which was supported by the Greens and Liberal Democrats but opposed by the Tories.

A key part of the bill, which aims to make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender, was to move away from the medicalisation of changing someone’s gender to a system of self-identification.

The Scottish Labour Party confirmed its policies on gender reforms have not changed.

The Labour Party said it remains committed to making it easier for trans people to change their gender.STV News

Paul O’Kane, the party’s social justice spokesperson, said: “Labour is committed to modernising and reforming the outdated and intrusive Gender Recognition Act, as well as ensuring exemptions in the Equality Act are upheld.

“Scottish Labour continues to support the de-medicalisation of the process in Scotland.”

Sharing Dodds’s comments, Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser tweeted: “In this confused & rambling article, what sticks out is the attack on the SNP-Green ⁦@scotgov⁩ for legislating for self-ID in Scotland.

“So why on Earth did ⁦@AnasSarwar⁩ whip his MSPs to vote for it? And will he now apologise for this error?”

The public backlash from Scottish Labour MSPs follows a similar revolt over Starmer’s plans not to end the UK Government’s two-child benefit cap.

Lennon and Leonard were also among the MSPs calling for the Labour leader to change course on that issue.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code