World news

London and Edinburgh tear each other apart over gender change

► What does Scottish law say about gender?

The Scottish Government wants to simplify and speed up the process by which a trans person can obtain a certificate of legal gender recognition. The law adopted on December 22 by the Scottish Parliament of Holyrood thus removes a certain number of obstacles. For example, the requirement for a medical and psychiatric diagnosis would no longer be necessary. The text also raises the age limit for changing sex from 18 to 16 and reduces the period from two years to three months during which an applicant must live in their acquired gender.

On the other hand, the law does not modify the legal provision stipulating that any person wishing to change sex undertakes, by oath, to remain so for life. Any false statement or false request is considered a criminal offence. In theory, only a small number of people would be directly affected by the reform: according to figures from the British health system (NHS), transgender people represent around 0.5% of the population.

► Did Rishi Sunak’s government use the legal route to challenge the Scottish text?

Under the Scotland Act of 1998, which created the Scottish Parliament and government, while supervising these institutions, several weeks are necessary for the British government to verify that a text adopted by the Parliament of Holyrood does not encroach on the reserved domain of British institutions before enacting a bill.

In December, Rishi Sunak warned that he was considering going to the Supreme Court to block the Scottish gender text, claiming that it infringed on the British Equality Act.

The latter, which defines gender from a legal point of view for the whole country, provides for a longer procedure than Scottish law, and a medical opinion. The normal procedure is then to go to the British Supreme Court, which decides, details Edwige Camp-Pietrain, professor at the Hauts-de-France polytechnic university and specialist in political and constitutional issues in Scotland. However, the British government has chosen not to seize the judicial authority, but to use article 35 of British law, never used so far. As a result, he decides on his own that the law will not be promulgated. For the Scots, this is a political decision from London. »

► Is this a maneuver to bring the Scottish separatists to heel?

For the time being, we remain at the stage of the war of words: Edinburgh evokes a “frontal attack” of London going against the will of the Scottish Parliament. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that if the UK government were to decide to block the Gender Act, it would turn trans people into “political weapon”.

This is the second time in two months that London and Edinburgh have clashed over the legislative prerogatives of the Scottish province. Last November, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that Scotland could not hold another independence referendum without London’s agreement. It had thus showered the hopes of the government of Edinburgh, which wanted to organize a second consultation in 2023, after that of September 2014, where the “no” had won with 55.3% of the votes cast.

Source : WORLD NEWS

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