Home > News > Stage Three of Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill announced for Tuesday December 20th
7 December 2022   |    News
Stage Three of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill will be starting on Tuesday December 20th, with the final vote on Wednesday December 21st.
What can I expect from Stage Three?
Stage Three is the final part of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill’s journey through Parliament, where MSPs can suggest changes (known as amendments) to the Bill to be voted on by all other MSPs.
In theory, these amendments should not be too similar to amendments which were already voted down at Stage Two – but this isn’t a strict rule! No amendments have yet been submitted for Stage Three, but we expect to see quite a few before the deadline in a week. We’ll try to keep you posted on those as often as we can.
Amendments will then be grouped, to be debated and voted on by all MSPs, starting on Tuesday 20th December from around 2.30pm – 8pm. MSPs who have submitted amendments will be able to make the case for why other MSPs should vote for their suggested changes.
This will continue on Wednesday 21st December from around 2.30pm again. After all amendments have been voted on, there will then be a final vote on the amended Bill as a whole, and if it passes, the reforms will become law. We expect this final vote to be around 5.15pm on Wednesday 21st.
What’s been going on since Stage Two?
The bill was republished on the Scottish Parliament’s website, having been updated to reflect the amendments made to it at Stage Two: https://www.parliament.scot/-/media/files/legislation/bills/s6-bills/gender-recognition-reform-scotland-bill/stage-2/bill-as-amended-at-stage-2.pdf
The week before last, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls sent a letter urging the Scottish Government to pause the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. She raised a number of issues in her letter, which we do not believe are fair or accurate reflections of what impact the bill will have if passed.
The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing, and Local Government Shona Robison MSP (who is responsible for the bill) responded to the Special Rapporteur’s letter in great detail: https://www.parliament.scot/-/media/files/committees/equalities-human-rights-and-civil-justice-committee/correspondence/2022/gender-recognition-reform-letter-from-cabsecsjhlg-to-ehrcj-committee-on-un-special-rapporteur-letter.pdf. She also announced that she will meet with her in the near future, to discuss her concerns.
In a further letter to the Special Rapporteur, executives from six human and women’s rights organisations (Engender, JustRight Scotland, Scottish Women’s Rights Centre, Scottish Women’s Aid, Amnesty International Scotland, and Rape Crisis Scotland) laid out exactly why they do not agree with the Special Rapporteur’s assessment of this Bill’s potential impacts. You can read their letter in full here: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/files/2022-11/Letter%20to%20UNSR%20on%20VAWG.pdf?VersionId=t6PFlx1ajA9E1sCBb96sfgR2Q_eDzmDl
As many experts have been saying throughout this Bill’s five year consultation period, simplifying the process by which trans men and women in Scotland can obtain legal gender recognition in Scotland does not change how single sex services operate in Scotland.
Under the Equality Act (which this Bill cannot change) single sex services can exclude trans people with or without a gender recognition certificate if this is a proportionate means to reach a legitimate aim. However, the exclusion of trans people is not required, and most single sex services in Scotland include trans people.
This is explained very clearly in the joint letter: “All specialist violence against women and girls organisations have robust safeguarding procedures in place which include risk assessment at the point of service delivery. There is no rape crisis service in Scotland that requires a gender recognition certificate. Where services are available to women only, women are not required to provide ‘proof’ of their sex. All rape crisis services in Scotland are inclusive of transwomen and have been for 15 years. In those 15 years, there has not been a single incident of anyone abusing this.”
The Scottish Human Rights Commission also spoke about their continued support for the bill when appearing before the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee on 6th December (discussion of the Bill starts at around 10:58): https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/equalities-human-rights-and-civil-justice-committee-december-6-2022
And what does all this mean?
We are very hopeful that if we continue to make the positive case for why these reforms matter, and stay focused on what the bill really does, then MSPs will make the right decision in a few weeks’ time and vote for it.
But we need your help to be sure that will happen. You can contact all 8 of your MSPs in just a couple of minutes here: www.scottishtrans.org/email-your-msps
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