Definition of woman in public boards Act dropped after court challenge

The one-page Bill was required following a ruling in a case brought by For Women Scotland.

Definition of woman in public boards Act dropped after court challenge PA Media

The definition of woman has been dropped from legislation mandating 50% female representation on public boards following a court challenge.

The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act was passed in 2018, but included transgender women in its definitions.

A challenge to the legislation by campaign group For Women Scotland resulted in a court ruling that the definition should be removed because the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to change the definition of woman.

As such, a one-page Bill was proposed by the Government removing the definition altogether.

On Thursday, the Bill passed unanimously with the support of 108 MSPs.

Speaking ahead of the Bill’s passage, Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the amendment was “technical”, adding: “The Bill does not change the policy intention of the 2018 Act, we still need the boards of our public bodies to reflect the population of Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative Tory deputy leader Meghan Gallacher said MSPs were “spending parliamentary time today fixing yet another mess that was created by the Scottish Government”.

She added: “Had it not been for women’s groups challenging this Act, this amended Bill would not be before us.

“I am pleased that we have fierce, resilient and brave women right across Scotland will not tolerate their rights being eroded.”

Scottish Labour MSP Martin Whitfield said the 2018 Act was “an important step on the journey to better gender parity and increasing the representation of women in public life”.

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