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While it was a very important piece of legislation at the time, trans people, along with many human rights and equality organisations, have criticised the law as being too difficult to access, and placing too much emphasis on psychiatric diagnosis and medical transition. Many other countries and states around the world have already made changes to their own laws to reflect these criticisms.
For the past 5 years, the Scottish Government has been carrying out consultations on reforming the GRA to bring it closer in-line with international standards and make it easier for trans people to change the “legal sex” on their birth certificate.
Scottish Trans supports these reforms, and believes they will have a marked impact on the lives of trans men and women in Scotland, who currently have to spend large amounts of time and money on a difficult, bureaucratic, and unfair process just to have the way they live recognised on some of their records.
Whilst an important step forward, the reforms proposed would still see Scotland with a gender recognition law that is far from world-leading. Other countries have been significantly more ambitious in changing their laws to ensure that all trans people can be respected and recognised as who they are.
You can find the bill itself here: https://www.parliament.scot/bills-and-laws/bills/gender-recognition-reform-scotland-bill
3rd March: Gender Recognition Reform Bill published
21st March: Stage One (written evidence) begins with call for views on the Bill
16th May: Call for views closes after four weeks
17th May: Stage One (oral evidence) begins with the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee taking evidence from a range of stakeholders
28th June: Oral evidence finishes after the committee hears from 39 witnesses with a range of perspectives and areas of expertise across 8 public sessions
2nd July: Scottish Parliament enters summer recess until 4th September, meaning no Committee or Chamber sessions
6th October: The Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee releases its report, summarising evidence collecting and recommending by a majority that MSPs support the bill
27th October: MSPs debate the principle of the Bill in Scottish Parliament, and a vote on the Bill passes with 88 for, 33 against, and 4 abstains
28th October: Stage Two of the bill begins, meanings MSPs can submit amendments to the Bill to the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice committee for them to approve or deny
22nd November: Final vote is held by the EHRCJ committee on Stage Two amendments, with only minor changes made to the Bill after over 150 amendments are considered
23rd November: Stage Three of the bill begins, the final section of the Bill’s progress where all MSPs can suggest and vote on amendments, followed by a final vote on whether the Bill will pass or fail
20th December: After over 140 amendments were submitted, the first debates and votes of Stage Three Amendments begin. Debating and voting over amendments stretches on for three days, with Scottish Parliament meeting well into the early hours of the morning. Few amendments pass, making minor changes to the Bill, but nothing which alters its core function.
23rd December: After closing remarks, a final vote is held on the Bill, which passes with an overwhelming majority of 86 votes for to 39 against, with supportive votes from members of all five parties.
16th January: Secretary of State for Scotland announces that the UK Government will use a Section 35 order under the Scotland Act to block the Bill from gaining royal assent, as they believe it will negatively impact their ability to carry out reserved equalities duties.
12th April: The Scottish Government announces that they will lodge a petition for legislative review of the Section 35 order, meaning they will take the UK Government to court over the legality of the order’s use.
A quick explainer on the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, what it does, and how it works.
Find out what would and would not change about the Gender Recognition Act if the Reform Bill passes.
While it was world-leading when it was introduced in 2004, the Gender Recognition Act has since become outdated and out of step with international guidance.
Find out how you can help pass the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.
Find your MSPs and tell them why you think they should vote to reform the Gender Recognition Act.
What are legal gender recognition laws like in the rest of the world and how do ours compare?
Your frequently asked questions on the Gender Recognition Act answered.
Resources and guides we have produced regarding reform to the Gender Recognition Act.
Explainer on the UK Government’s use of a Section 35 order to block the Bill, what happens next, and what we can expect.
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Scottish Trans is part of the Equality Network
Scottish Trans is the Equality Network project to improve gender identity and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland. The Equality Network is a leading Scottish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights charity.
The Equality Network is a registered Scottish charity: SC037852, and a company limited by guarantee: SC220213.
We are grateful for funding from the Scottish Government