Robison vows ‘robust’ defence of parliament after gender reform appeal scrapped

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said the Scottish Government will continue to defend decisions made by the Scottish Parliament.

Robison vows ‘robust’ defence of parliament after gender reform appeal scrapped STV News

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison confirmed any further legal challenge to recent rulings on the controversial gender recognition reform will be scrapped, but pledged to “robustly defend” the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking to BBC Scotland’s The Nine, Ms Robison said the move to drop any further appeals was a “difficult decision” and that the Scottish Government had looked “very carefully” at the outcome.

It comes after the Court of Session dismissed an appeal against Westminster’s decision to override MSPs and axe the Gender Recognition Reform bill last week.

Ms Robison told the BBC the UK Government’s evocation of a section 35 order to overturn the bill and prevent it from becoming law was “outrageous”.

The legislation had attempted to simplify the process for transgender people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) and officially change their legally-recognised sex.

But the UK Government ruled it could have an adverse impact on equalities legislation across the UK.

“We took all of the factors in the round, around what the case and what the prospects of the case would be, as well as all the other considerations and the impact indeed on the trans community.

“So, we’ve made that decision for all of the reasons that we have set out,” Ms Robison said.

She added: “The point here is that Scotland’s democratic institution overwhelmingly supported a piece of legislation that is within devolved competence.

“And because the UK Government and the Secretary of State for Scotland didn’t like it, he thought he could ride roughshod over the democratic wishes of this Parliament.”

The Deputy First Minister said the Scottish Government was concerned about a “pattern of behaviour” and said that any future attempts to block legislation would “not be tolerated”.

She added: “If we see this again, on a piece of legislation the Secretary of State for Scotland happens not to like, we will continue to robustly defend the wishes of this Parliament.

“(We will) make sure that we get the support of civic Scotland and other institutions in Scotland, to make sure that we send a loud message that this pattern of behaviour will not be tolerated.

“And we want to make sure if there is a change of government at UK level that we get a different understanding and a different relationship that is based on respect.”

Alba Party MSP Ash Regan, who left the Scottish Government and the SNP over her stance on GRR, said she welcomed the decision.

She told The Nine: “I think it’s welcome, I’m disappointed that unfortunately the Scottish Government has got itself into this mess to begin with, it didn’t have to do that.

“But what I will say, whilst this legislation, which is deeply unpopular with the Scottish public, is blocked for now, what I would like to see is that this legislation is withdrawn and I would like to see the Scottish Government say they will never implement this bill.”

The debate around gender reform in Scotland has been controversial with opponents claiming it could endanger the safety and rights of women and girls, while its supporters – including the Scottish Government – said it was a minor clerical change that would affect a small number of trans people in Scotland.

In statements given to the BBC, the Scottish Trans Alliance called the current system for gender recognition “intrusive, stressful and difficult” and said the bill that passed last year would have improved the lives of trans men and women.

For Women Scotland, who have campaigned against changes in the law, urged the Scottish Government to draw a line under the issue.

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