Tory Splits Erupt After Rishi Sunak Blocks Scotland's Gender Recognition Law

A group of moderate Conservatives say it is a "deeply concerning development".
Protesters demonstrate outside the Scottish Parliament for reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
Protesters demonstrate outside the Scottish Parliament for reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
Ken Jack via Getty Images

Tory splits on trans rights have burst into the open after the government blocked Scotland’s gender reforms from becoming law.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack last night used a so-called “section 35 order” vetoing the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which was passed at Holyrood before Christmas.

It followed advice from government lawyers that the bill would cut across the UK-wide Equality Act.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon accused the UK government of “a full-frontal attack” on the Scottish parliament.

In a statement, the moderate Tory Reform Group described the UK government’s move as “a deeply concerning development”.

“The UK government has not only played into the hands of those who seek to break our Union, but also exposed how lacking its own equalities agenda has become,” the group said.

“Transgender and non-binary lives across the country are at risk of being used to play political games.

“The government spoke of the need for constructive engagement so now is the time to see change and actual delivery.

“Under successive governments, the equalities agenda has been viewed as an issue to be debated but with little meaningful legislation. It is time to make some real progress.”

The Scottish bill would make it easier for trans people to legally change gender by reducing the time the process takes and lowering the age at which it can happen to 16.

The UK government has said it has no intention of introducing a similar bill at Westminster.

But education secretary Gillian Keegan today said she supported the right of 16-year-olds to change their gender.

She said: “I was working at 16, I was paying tax at 16, I was making decisions for myself at 16.”


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