London sparks fury of independence activists in Scotland by blocking gender law

The British government has chosen the nuclear option against Scotland. On Monday January 16, Alister Jack, Deputy Minister for Scotland in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet, confirmed that London intended to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, a law that facilitates gender change for trans people, passed there. barely a month ago in the Parliament of Edinburgh, refusing him his royal assent. A purely formal step, but without which no law can be definitively enacted in the United Kingdom.

Downing Street justifies this veto by explaining that this text would have significant consequences on the application of the laws in force at the level of the United Kingdom, in particular the Equality Act of 2010, constituting the basis of anti-discrimination legislation in the country. “I did not take this decision lightly. This law project [écossais] would have had a significant impact on, in particular, equal rights in Great Britain. I concluded [qu’exercer ce veto] was a necessary and appropriate action”explains Mr. Jack.

This is the first time since the creation of Parliament Scottish, by devolution of power, twenty years ago, that the British government chose to exercise this veto, going a priori against the will of Scottish elected officials, but provided for by the Scotland Act of 1998. This fundamental text certainly gives “Holyrood” (the Edinburgh assembly) the power to pass laws in reserved areas (education or health), but it keeps this regional parliament under the control of Westminster, the British. Unprecedented and politically very sensitive, this legislative deadlock gives golden arguments to the Scottish separatists, who contest British sovereignty, and especially the authority of the Conservatives in London.

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London’s veto is all the more explosive as it relates to a bill that has sparked heated debate at Holyrood. The Gender Recognition Reform Bill intends to make it easier for trans people to acquire a gender recognition certificate establishing that their gender “is not the one who [leur] was assigned at birth”. This document, which they can claim from the age of 16, without medical advice, allows them to claim a new birth certificate and obtain recognition of this change on their identity papers. At the UK level, the Sunak government does not intend to go that far and is sticking to recognition of gender change conditioned on medical advice (and impossible before the age of 18).

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