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National Gender Identity Clinical Network launched

The National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland (NGICNS) was launched in Glasgow yesterday (3 December 2014) at an event providing trans people with an opportunity to learn more about the Network, and enabling clinicians to hear trans people’s priorities for change.

In 2007 the Scottish Trans Alliance identified, through community feedback, that there was an enormous disparity, like a postcode lottery, from one health board to another in terms of the gender reassignment services that were provided. It caused immense problems and significant distress to trans people across Scotland.

As a result of intense lobbying the Scottish government implemented the Gender Reassignment Protocol. In 2012 we pushed for the creation of the Network to ensure the national protocol is implemented equally across all Scottish health boards.

The creation of the Network is a major step forward and an opportunity to improve services and provide greater transparency in how assessments are carried out and decisions made about service provision. It will itself aim to be transparent and empower trans people and NHS professionals working in Scotland. This will be achieved in part by the Network steering group, the members of which will provide expert guidance and information about how services are working on the ground.

It is hoped that NGICNS will also be able to raise issues with the NHS, such as the lack of capacity gender identity services are currently experiencing, and advocate for changes which will improve the patient experience.

The Network has the potential to help shape a gender identity service which is joined up, transparent, effective, equitable, and responsive to the needs of those it serves. For our part we look forward to working with NGICNS to try and achieve just that.

Success – Scotland removes spousal veto from equal marriage bill

In a major step forward for trans equality in Scotland, the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee today passed an amendment to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill removing the spousal veto on gender recognition.

The amendment, which was proposed by the Equality Network and Scottish Trans Alliance, and submitted by Linda Fabiani MSP, means trans people who married in Scotland will be able to have their gender legally recognized without having to get the consent of their spouse.

Without the amendment Scotland’s equal marriage bill would not have delivered genuine marriage equality for trans people. The spousal veto would have enabled the husband or wife of a trans person to deny their partner the right to have the gender they live as recognized in law.

This aspect of the Bill rightly attracted a great deal of criticism from trans people who felt it undermined their personal autonomy.

It is our strong view that legal gender recognition is a human right that should not be able to be vetoed by another person.

Many spouses of trans people were also greatly opposed to the spousal veto and objected to the suggestion they should have control over a fundamental aspect of their partner’s identity.

We have worked hard to ensure our amendment to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill achieves a fair balance of rights between the trans and non-trans spouse.

Previously as well as having the right to an non-contestable divorce, the non-trans spouse was also able to block their partner’s gender recognition. The Bill now redresses this balance by ensuring the trans spouse can obtain gender recognition while continuing to provide their partner with the right to get a divorce if they are not happy staying in the marriage.

As transgender equality is developing across Europe an increasing number of countries are removing divorce requirements from their laws and treating gender recognition as a purely individualized process.

Of the 10 European Countries who have introduced same sex marriage none, apart from England and Wales, have a spousal veto on gender recognition.

We are delighted the Scottish Parliament has taken this opportunity to develop our laws in line with best practice and maintain Scotland’s reputation as a leader on trans equality. Because gender recognition is provided by the UK-wide Gender Recognition Panel (GRP) the Scottish Parliament cannot enact legislation which would change their procedures. If the Bill passes, trans people married in Scotland will therefore continue to apply to the GRP and, if they don’t have the consent of their spouse, will be given an interim gender recognition certificate. Our amendment will then enable them to apply to the Sheriff Court, using a straightforward administrative procedure, and receive full gender recognition.

Since we launched the Equal Marriage campaign in 2008, the Equality Network and Scottish Trans Alliance have always been determined for trans equality to be an integral part of Scotland’s equal marriage legislation – not an afterthought. We have been eager for the Bill to be well considered and meet the needs of all LGBT people. The success of this amendment means the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill was worth waiting for – Scotland can now proudly say that it is set to introduce equal marriage.

No Spousal Veto in Scotland

Five Amendments to Secure Equal Marriage

Image of front cover of STA booklet Five Amendments to Secure Equal Marriage

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is an historic step forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality in Scotland.  It has the potential to deliver equal partnership rights for trans and intersex people.  However, we have identified five improvements that need to be made in order to ensure that it does. We have therefore proposed five amendments to the Bill.  The Equal Opportunities Committee has made recommendations relating to these amendments and we hope that the Scottish Parliament will vote to support them.

To find out more about our five proposed amendments, please read our briefing.

Image highlighting five amendments are needed to secure equal marriage.

Scottish Parliament Committee recommends approval of equal marriage bill

We are very happy to report that the Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee has recommended that the Parliament approves the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill at stage 1. The recommendation is in the Committee’s stage 1 report to the Parliament.

[Read more…]

New Fee Structure for Gender Recognition Panel

The Ministry of Justice is bringing in a new fee system for all tribunals including the Gender Recognition Panel. Despite our own consultation response, and that of other organisations, stating that a single system for all tribunals would have a disproportionately adverse effect on certain applicants, including trans people, the UK Government has decided to go ahead with the proposals.

If you are planning to apply for gender recognition you may wish to consider doing so before the new system comes into place on Monday 7th October.

The new system will work as follows:

Disposable Capital Test

  • This first test assesses the applicant’s disposable capital e.g. savings, investments, second homes etc
  • If an applicant has £3000 or more of disposable capital they will be required to pay the full fee – currently £140 (although this may change when this system comes into force)
  • If an applicant has under £3000 of disposable capital they will move onto the Gross Monthly Income Test

Gross Monthly Income Test

  • This second test assesses the applicant’s gross monthly income i.e. their monthly income before tax from all sources except excluded benefits
  • If an applicant’s income is below the threshold set out in the table below they will not have to pay a fee

Table

  • If an applicant’s income is over the relevant threshold set out in the table above they will be required to make a contribution towards their fee of £5 for each additional £10 income above the threshold, up to the value of the fee e.g. if an applicant has an income of £1185, an additional £100 over the relevant threshold, they will be required to pay £50 towards the fee

 

Contracts for the Provision of Gender Reassignment Surgical Services Announced

We are very pleased that the contracts providing for gender reassignment surgery to trans people in Scotland have been awarded.  [Read more…]

The Scottish Trans Alliance has submitted evidence on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill

We have now submitted our evidence to the Equal Opportunities Committee on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. If you would like to read our evidence you can view it here.

Thousands March at Glasgow Pride Amid Protests Over Russian Anti-LGBT Abuses

News coverage of Glasgow Pride and the growing protests over the situation in Russia.

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/08/thousands-march-at-glasgow-pride-amid-protests-over-russias-anti-gay-law/

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Raises Gay Rights With Russia

Great news that the pressure on Russia is continuing to grow. Lets use our strong ties with the Russian people to bring an end to human rights abuses in that country.

http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10499

 

Twitter Bigot Ordered to Pay Gay Rights Campaigner £40,000 for Calling Her a Paedophile

A Scottish equal marriage campaigner has been awarded damages for defamation after she received homophobic abuse on twitter.

 

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/twitter-bigot-ordered-pay-gay-2129577