The UK government decided to block a Scottish gender change law on Monday, risking a standoff between London and the devolved government in Edinburgh.
The law — passed by a wide margin in December with the backing of all five political parties in the Holyrood parliament – allows people to legally change their gender, but is now opposed by London due to concerns over its possible impact on equality laws across the Kingdom -United.
It is the first time that London has used its legal powers to block legislation in Scotland.
Under the Scottish Act 1998, a devolved government was created in Scotland, giving the country greater influence over how it is run. But many areas of law and policy remain under the control of London, which is the supreme authority.
Monday’s decision risks sparking a new political and legal battle between London and Edinburgh, just two months on the Scottish parliament was impeded by the UK Supreme Court to hold a second independence referendum.
Secretary of State Alister Jack, the UK government’s representative in Scotland, said on Monday night the Gender Equality Bill would ‘impact’ the way equality legislation works across Great Britain. Brittany.
“My ruling today relates to the impact of the legislation on the operation of equality protections,” he said. “I did not take this decision lightly.”
Writing on Twitter, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon denounced a “frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions”.
She said the Scottish Government would “defend” the law, slamming the “Westminster veto”.
The law, proposed by the Scottish parliament in December, aimed to simplify the legal process for changing gender.
It removed the requirement for transgender people to have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria when applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
The period an applicant must live in their new gender has also been reduced from two years to three months, while lowering the age at which people can apply for a GRC from 18 to 16 – bringing it in line with other rights of young people in Scotland, including voting.
Stonewall, a UK-based charity for LGBT+ rights, criticized London’s decision, saying it was “saddened”.
“There are no actions of a government that can present themselves on the international stage as an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights,” he said in a statement.
The UK government has warned it could block the law immediately after it is passed.
Adopted after heated debates in the local parliament, opponents say it will endanger women, affecting access to spaces reserved for them.
The Scottish government insists the bill does not affect UK law which allows for the exclusion of transgender people from certain designated areas, such as changing rooms.