The UK Government's decision to prevent the Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill from proceeding to Royal Assent. The Government is committed to ensuring that everyone in the UK is free to live their lives and fulfil their potential regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. People who are going through the process to change their legal sex deserve our respect, support and understanding. I can assure you that the Government’s decision to block the legislation is centred on the legislation’s consequences for the operation of reserved matters, including equality legislation across Scotland, England and Wales.
In considering the Bill, the Government has followed long standing due process and sought to uphold its responsibilities under the Scotland Act 1998. These include considering whether the Bill will have an adverse effect on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters. It is the Government’s assessment that the Bill will have a significant harmful impact on the operation of GB-wide equality legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act is a vital piece of legislation and the cornerstone in the protection of all UK citizens against discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
In making the decision to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, the Government have listened to the concerns of many experts and civil society groups regarding the potential impact of the Bill on the safety of women and children. These adverse effects include impacts on protections such as equal pay and equality monitoring under the public sector equality duty; the operation of single sex associations, clubs and schools; a significant chilling effect relating to single sex spaces and sports; operational difficulties and complications resulting from creating two different gender recognition regimes in the UK; and the lack of sufficient safeguards against fraudulent or bad faith applications.
I can assure you that the Government’s decision to Block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill has not been taken lightly. My colleagues and I fully respect the Scottish Parliament’s competency to make decisions within devolved areas but cannot ignore the significant consequences of this Bill for reserved areas. The Government will continue to engage with the Scottish Government on this matter, and work with them in good faith.