Members of the Scottish Feminist Network outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh Photo: JANE BARLOW/PA
The UK Government Acted Lawfully By Vetoing Gender Laws Nicola Sturgeon's self-identification case, a senior judge has ruled in a “humiliating” defeat for SNP ministers.
The Court of Session said Alistair Jack, the Scottish secretary, had the power to block the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill, despite that he was accepted by the MSP.
In a 65-page judgment, Lady Haldane rejected the Scottish Government's claims that Mr Jack acted irrationally and could not justify his concerns. This legislation will undermine the protection of women throughout the UK.
Ms Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf, her successor, argued that Mr Jack's use of the veto demonstrated Westminster could overturn any Holyrood legislation it wanted.
But Lady Haldane said the veto was “an integral part of the law.” The Scotland Act, which created devolution, was “not seamless” because it required “certain preconditions to be met”.
Responding on social media, Mr Yousaf said it was a “dark day for devolution”. ” and his government will “take time” to consider the court's findings before deciding whether to appeal.
He has 21 days to decide whether to refer the case to the Inner House of the Court of Session, which is the highest civil court in Scotland. If the Scottish Government loses again, it could appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
However, Mr Jack welcomed the decision and called on the First Minister to “stop wasting taxpayers' money on unnecessary legal action”.
p > The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was introduced by Nicola Sturgeon when she was First Minister. Photo: KEN JACK/GETTY
Mr Yousaf's administration has spent more than £230,000 of public money on the legal battle and it is understood Mr Jack is seeking to recoup the UK government's costs, which also run into six figures.
This is the latest news in history. A number of high-profile court cases have been lost by the Scottish Government, including last year's UK Supreme Court decision that Holyrood did not have the power to hold an independence referendum.
The GRR Bill would allow Scots to change their legal gender simply by signing a statutory declaration, eliminating the requirement for a formal medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
It will also dramatically shorten the period of time a person has to live. in their “acquired gender” from two years to six months and allow 16 and 17 year olds to obtain Gender Recognition Certificates (GRCs) for the first time.
Mr Jack made an order under Section 35 of the Scotland Act prohibiting the law's Royal Assent was the first time the power had been used.
He argued that the law undermined UK-wide protections for women, including the sanctity of women-only safe spaces.
The reforms sparked a huge public backlash after trans predator Isla Bryson was initially sent to a women's prison. after being convicted of two rapes.
Having succeeded Ms Sturgeon as First Minister, Mr Yousaf has pressed ahead with his bid for a judicial review of the decision, despite legal experts warning he has little chance of success. The case was heard by Lady Haldane in September.
Alistair Jack welcomed the Court of Session's decision on the Gender Reform Bill Credit: LEON NEAL/GETTY
Mr Yousaf tweeted: “Today's decision confirms beyond any doubt that devolution is fundamentally flawed. The court confirmed that legislation passed by a majority in Holyrood can be overturned by Westminster.
“The only way to ensure we get true self-government is through independence. This is a dark day for devolution. Sovereignty must lie with the people of Scotland, not with a Westminster government that we did not vote for, with the possibility of overturning our laws.” However, he insisted that Scottish National Party ministers would “respect the court's decision and will accept the decision.” . it is time to consider the findings.”
Mr Jack said: “It was clear to me that this legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of the law as it applied to reserved matters, including important issues of protecting equality across throughout Great Britain.”
“Following this latest, if the Scottish Government are defeated in court, their ministers need to stop wasting taxpayers' money on unnecessary legal action and focus on the real issues that matter to people in Scotland, such as growing the economy and reducing waiting lists.”
Megan Gallagher, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “This is a humiliating defeat for Humza Yousaf and the Scottish National Party, who have once again wasted taxpayers' money on a self-serving but doomed court case.”
Their reckless reform bill gender recognition is deeply unpopular with the Scottish public because its identity jeopardizes the safety of women and girls – as demonstrated when a double rapist was sent to a women's prison.”
Humza Yousaf said it was a “dark day for devolution” and his government would “take time” to consider the court's findings. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain CC, the Scottish Government's most senior lawyer, said the Court of Session in September said the reasons used by Mr Jack to justify the veto were “theoretical” and ” It is very unlikely that they will arise in practice.”
She argued that the evidence base he used before making his decision was too narrow and argued that he actually blocked the law because he disagreed with the identity policy.
By saying he acted illegally, She said a Scottish gender recognition certificate issued under the self-identification system “would have no effect elsewhere in the UK”.
But Lady Haldane rejected her arguments, saying Documents produced in the case , “do not support the conclusion or inference that there was political disagreement behind the adoption of the decree.”
The judge also rejected Ms Bain's claim that the bill had no impact in the UK. broad equality laws, and this meant that the “first precondition” for the use of the veto had been satisfied.
Lady Haldane noted that the “general purpose” of the legislation was to “broaden the category of those who can apply” for the GRC, “and simplify the overall certification process.”
Rejecting the claim that Mr Jack acted irrationally, she said he had received advice and information about whether a veto would be legal and “the extent to which adverse consequences were expected” from the bill.
In their The number included material from Reem Alsalem, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences.
While Lady Haldane was not “exhaustive”, she noted that Mr Jack was “limited” to a four-week period. the deadline he had to veto and the approach he took was “reasonable in all the circumstances.”
Demonstrators for transgender rights attend a rally in Glasgow against an attempt to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. Photo: JEFF J MITCHELL/GETTY IMAGES
The Scottish Secretary received only one “substantial submission” in support of the bill, but the judge noted that “the fundamental issue before him is different from that before the Scottish Parliament.”
Instead of balancing the pros and cons. legislation, she said its purpose was “to ascertain… whether any adverse effects can in fact be identified to justify intervention in the manner proposed.”
Speaking on behalf of the Labor Party, who voted for the legislation Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish minister, said: “It is unfortunate that this legislation ended up in court, but this decision must be respected.”
Vic Valentine, manager of the charity Scottish Trans, said: “We are truly concerned that this decision, if not challenged, will mean that trans people will continue to have to use an intrusive, unfair and costly process to legally recognize who we really are, which the majority of MSP members voted to greatly improve last year – and that is why we are calling on the Scottish Government to appeal.”