Controversial gender reform proposals face final Holyrood debates

Over 150 amendments have been tabled to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

Scottish Conservatives call for gender open debate to avoid ‘travesty of democracy’ iStock

The Scottish Tories have warned of a “travesty of democracy” if debate on amendments to controversial gender legislation is time limited.

Some 153 amendments have been tabled to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill and will be debated on Tuesday before a final vote on Wednesday.

Parliamentary officials have advised the consideration of amendments could take as long as nine hours – meaning parliament could sit close to midnight to consider the changes.

The timings are yet to be approved by the cross-party group of MSPs tasked with organising parliamentary business.

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton, an outspoken opponent of the Bill, has hit out at what she says is “a time limit” on amendments.

“The SNP and Labour should have seen sense and backed our calls to delay the last reading of this Bill, to allow for full, reasoned debate on the concerns many of us have about protections for women and girls,” she added.

“Recent polling suggests our concerns are shared by the majority of Scots, who are supportive of trans rights but also want women and girls to have safe spaces – and are rightly worried about teenagers being given the green light to do something they later regret.

“Rushing this through before Christmas is typical of the SNP’s attempts to railroad this legislation through Parliament without proper scrutiny.

“Without the full debate that each of these 153 amendments merits, tomorrow risks being a travesty of democracy.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Parliament said: “The Parliamentary Bureau was sent estimated timings to inform their discussion of programming of stage three proceedings.

“As is usual ahead of any stage three, the estimated timings will be considered by the bureau which will decide whether to recommend to the parliament any changes to the business programme.”

The Bill will make it easier for trans people to acquire a gender recognition certificate (GRC) by removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

It will also lower the minimum age for applicants from 18 to 16 and drop the time required for an applicant to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months – six for people aged 16 and 17 – though with a subsequent three-month reflection period.

On Sunday, Ms Hamilton called on MSPs from all parties to “vote with their conscience” when the Bill comes before the chamber this week.

Meanwhile, Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman said this week was an important one for “trans rights and equality in Scotland”.

“Gender Recognition Reform is a simple change that could make a big difference to trans people. It will remove some of the pain and trauma from a process that many trans people have told us they consider to be bureaucratic and demeaning,” she said.

“It is a vital reform, not just for the good it will do but also for the message it will send.

“By passing the Bill this week we can bring Scotland in line with international good practice, and be at the forefront of equality legislation in the UK.

“This is about giving people the recognition and dignity that they deserve, and that many of us just take for granted – to live as who they are.”

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