MBM September 2021 newsletter

September 2021

Petition on recording rape

Our petition on the recording of rape by Police Scotland closed in early July, after gathering over 12k signatures. Since then a number of individuals and organisations have submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee. There was some media coverage of some of those submissions in The Times last month. The Scottish Government has now submitted a response to the petition. The Committee will consider our petition at its meeting on 6 October.

GRA reform

In its Programme for Government published on 7 September, the Scottish Government – a coalition between the SNP and Scottish Green Party – confirmed that it will bring forward legislation to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in this parliamentary term.

“Within the next year we will bring forward the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, removing the current medical requirements and reducing the time that applicants for gender recognition need to have lived in their acquired gender from two years to three months.”

Our response to the announcement is here. We have also written about the lack of transparency in the Government’s handling of the consultation, as well as the  decision not to produce an analysis of the 16,843 individual responses received.

It is not yet clear when draft legislation will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament, but since this announcement, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP has stated that women’s concerns about gender self-identification are “not valid”. We examined the First Minister’s claim in this blog, which at over 4,500 views is our most widely read post to date.

In this post, we also examined the claim that a statutory self-declaration model is in line with ‘international best practice’:

2022 Scottish census

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) confirmed on 31 August that the sex question in next year’s Scottish census will be accompanied by guidance which advises respondents that they may answer in terms of their self-declared gender identity. This is despite the fact that there is a new, separate question on gender identity and that similar self-identification guidance published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the census in England and Wales was successfully challenged in the English High Court in March this year. Feminist campaign group Fair Play For Women, which brought the legal action against ONS, are considering the possibility of legal action in response. Our response to the NRS decision is here.

In the meantime, the statistics regulator has written to NRS asking them to justify their decision.

Chief Statistician’s guidance on data collection

The Scottish Government’s Chief Statistician has published guidance for public bodies in Scotland on the collection of data on sex and gender identity. Once again, instead of treating the protected characteristics of sex and gender reassignment equally, the Scottish Government has chosen to elevate concerns about privacy in relation to gender identity over the need to collect accurate data on sex. Our response to the guidance is here:

Other issues

Inclusive Data Taskforce

In March 2021 we submitted evidence to the UK Statistics Authority ‘Inclusive Data Taskforce’ consultation. The Taskforce has now published its report which recommends that data on sex should be routinely collected, that data measures should be ‘conceptually robust’, and should distinguish between sex, gender and gender identity. In this blog we argue that this appears to mark a divergence in the approaches taken to the collection of data on sex between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Schools guidance

The Scottish Government published guidance for schools on supporting transgender pupils. You can read our critique of the statistics used in the guidance here:

We also reported out concerns about the use of data in the report to the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), who have raised the matter with the Scottish Chief Statistician.

Misogyny working group

In August, we submitted evidence to the Scottish Government’s Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland Working Group, led by Helena Kennedy QC.

Opposition party privileges and the coalition government

We wrote about the implications of the SNP-Green government for opposition party privileges enjoyed by the Scottish Green Party prior to the coalition.

Police Scotland

In addition to our work on crime recording, we wrote about the Police Scotland ‘Your Police’ survey in Policing Insight, and critiqued the decision not to ask about respondent’s sex on the grounds that “we do not need to know someone’s biological sex characteristics. What is important, is how they identify their gender”.

Media coverage

We have been quoted or our work referenced in a number of press articles on a range of topics:

GRA reform: Telegraph, Times, Herald, New Statesman, Herald, Scotsman, Times

2022 census: Sun, Telegraph, Guardian, Times

Lisa was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland’s Mornings with Kaye Adams on 20 September. You can listen back to the programme here (from 1hr11m) or read the transcript here.

Lisa also addressed a rally organised by For Women Scotland outside the Scottish Parliament on 2 September. You can watch footage of the speeches here or read Lisa’s speech here.

Earlier this week, we co-ordinated a multi-signatory letter calling on the Labour party to clarify its position on women-only spaces.