Scottish Liberal Democrat equalities spokesperson Caron Lindsay has today marked Pride Month by calling for urgent reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
Every time that Pride Month comes around I am reminded that in the UK and around the world, LGBT+ rights need to be fiercely fought for and defended.
This year, in Brunei the government proposed making death by stoning the punishment for sex between men. THe international backlash eventually forced a climb down but our own UK Government took far too long to speak out. Meanwhile the homophobic and misogynistic attack on two women on a London bus highlight there is still a nasty undercurrent that can too easily surface. The victims were incredibly brave to tell their story. Nobody should ever have to endure such an assault.
I had also been hoping to speak about the long overdue progress that Scotland has made on rights for trans and non-binary people but yesterday’s ministerial statement on Gender Recognition Act reform threw a spanner into the works.
The Liberal Democrats asked for reform of the GRA in the last parliament because it was harming trans people then just as it is harming them now.
Now it seems unlikely that legislation will pass before the next Scottish parliament election. For every month this debate does not take place in this chamber it takes place outside and is subject to hyperbole and misinformation.
This is a very disappointing decision not least because the government is pandering to scaremongering and misinformation. Trans people are suffering every day from abuse and discrimination. Ministers should look at evidence not media hyperbole.
All GRA reform does is make it easier for trans people to get a new birth certificate without going through a painful, bureaucratic and unnecessarily difficult process.
GRA reform is essentially allowing people to get a new birth certificate by making a statutory declaration. The penalties for making a false declaration are serious and it is not something anyone would do lightly.
Women are women. And trying to draw divisions between cis and trans over who gets women's rights is exactly the divide and conquer tactics used by the people who want to diminish *all* women's rights and all human rights. The struggle for equality is one we should fight together.
It’s a disappointing compromise when we should really be moving ahead but if a draft bill will be ready later this year, the Scottish Government should run this second public consultation concurrently with the stage one process to give a fighting chance of delivering reform in this parliament.
These are the battles we still have left to fight. I hope that every liberal will remember this when you mark Pride this year.