The Scottish Government has decided to petition for judicial review in order to challenge the UK Government’s Section 35 order. This is an important step in defending transgender rights in Scotland.

Scottish Government to petition for Judicial Review

The Scottish Government has released an answer to what their upcoming plans are in regard to the UK Government’s blocking of the Gender Recognition Reform bill. The Scottish Ministers have now decided to put forward a petition for judicial review of the aforementioned decision.

Since the blocking, the Secretary of State and the UK Government have refused to offer further clarification for their decision. Therefore, the Scottish Government does not believe the Secretary of State’s reasons to be sufficient justification for a Section 35 order. They found its use to be ‘unprecedented’ and his decision ‘should be legally tested in the courts’.

Background on the Gender Recognition Reform bill in Scotland

In December 2022, the Scottish Government passed a bill that would improve gender-affirming care in Scotland. The Gender Recognition Reform bill would facilitate trans people’s access to a Gender Recognition Certificate and mark a step forward for trans rights in Scotland.

Gender Recognition Certificate

The Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) is a certificate that legally recognises a trans person’s gender identity. The Gender Recognition Certificate can help you change your gender on official documents such as your birth certificate, marriage or death certificate. However, the current process in Scotland and the wider UK works through through the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA).

The reform bill proposed by the Scottish Government would remove the requirement of a gender dysphoria diagnosis. Given that not all trans people experience dysphoria, it would also inherently improve the access to documents and gender-affirming care for the wider trans community. Other medical reports would also not be necessary under these reforms

UK Government blocks Scottish Government Gender Recognition Reform Bill

However, in January 2023, the UK Government invoked the Section 35 order and blocked Scotland’s bill. By blocking the Gender Recognition Reform bill, they sent a clear message to transgender people in the country. With violence against trans people on the rise, trans rights in the UK should be at the forefront.

With the hateful mess of the SNP leadership campaign, the bigotry of the Conservative government in London, and the spinelessness of the Labour party in challenging them on trans issues, trans rights are moving steadily backward rather than forward in the UK.

What does this mean? What is a petition for judicial review?

A judicial review petition can be filed by organisations seeking to challenge the lawfulness of a decision or action by a UK public body, including the UK Government. If the court grants permission, a full judicial review hearing will take place. A successful judicial review can result in the decision or action being nullified, or the public body being ordered to take a different course of action.

The Scottish Government is set on challenging the UK’s Section 35 order. We hope that the review is successful and stand firmly with the fight for trans rights.

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