Stephen Daisley Stephen Daisley

The SNP should have listened to Kate Forbes

(Photo: Getty)

Kate Forbes has called on the Scottish Government to accept Friday’s judgment on its controversial gender legislation. The Gender Recognition Reform Bill introduces ‘self-identification’, an approach which removes medical experts and other safeguards from the process, and lowers the age at which a person can change their legal sex to 16.

It was passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament last December but blocked from becoming law by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack under a never-before-used power contained in the Scotland Act. Jack had received legal advice that the legislation would not only affect Scotland but equalities law across the UK. The SNP-Green Holyrood government petitioned for judicial review and yesterday the Court of Session ruled in favour of the Scottish Secretary.

On issue after issue — gender reform, deposit return, fishing bans and WhatsApp messages — Forbes has shown leadership

Forbes, who narrowly lost to Humza Yousaf in the contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon at the start of the year, says the Scottish Government taking Westminster to court over the matter has ‘created a period of great uncertainty and fear for trans people and women and girls, deepening already bitter divisions’. She says politicians should ‘heal divisions not exacerbate them’ and urges her party’s government ‘not to prolong the legal battle further’. Citing her ‘confidence in our citizens and democratic processes’, she encourages ministers to ‘listen to all’ and amend the Bill accordingly.

What it would take to amend the Bill to the Scottish Secretary’s satisfaction is open to question, but Forbes’ advice ought to be heeded. Not least because she saw all this coming. Not only was she against self-identification in principle — she was on maternity leave when the Bill was voted on — she also pledged in the leadership campaign that, were she to win, she would not challenge the Scottish Secretary’s order in court.

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