Gender Recognition Act reform


In September 2019 we launched a crowdfunder, aimed at publishing a detailed, evidence-based response to the Scottish Government’s draft Gender Recognition Bill, as well as supplementary briefings and media articles. Our work in this area, together with our analysis on gender self-identification laws and polices to date, will be published on this page. 


January 2019: Full page press article in the Scotsman 

“The Scottish Government is proposing to simplify the ­process for acquiring a gender ­recognition certificate (GRC), which allows a person to change the sex-marker on their birth certificate and has the broader legal effect of changing a person’s legal sex from man to woman (and vice versa). However the Government has yet to answer the central question, which is exactly how acquiring a GRC changes a person’s legal rights of access to single-sex services and occupations.”

Full article at: We need more clarity on gender rights debate from Scottish Government 1 January 2019 


December 2019: MBM briefing on GRA reform and the changing purpose of the Act 

The case made for reform shifts the argument for having the GRA away from the limited pragmatic concession envisaged in 2004 to a relatively small population of individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria, to enshrining in law the right to obtain a legal change of sex based on a person’s self-perception, and to self-determine exactly what that requires by way of personal changes. This change in thinking explains the removal of all third-party involvement from the draft Bill, including the need to produce evidence of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and means that, although the consultation does not say so, lawmakers would be deliberating on a Bill with a quite different rationale to the 2004 Act.”

Full post at: Gender Recognition Act reform: The purpose of the GRA


December 2019: MBM response to Scottish Government consultation on GRA reform 

We welcome this further consultation. We now need a transparent process, in which substantial questions about law, evidence and analysis receive substantial answers. The Scottish Government must engage fully with people from all perspectives, particularly groups who have expressed concern about the impact of moving to a system of self-declaration.” 

Full link here.


October 2019: MBM briefing on GRA reform and ‘International Best Practice’ 

The Scottish Government has cited alignment with ‘international best practice’ as a rationale for reforming the Gender Recognition Act to allow for the statutory self-declaration of sex. This post examines the status of the different international  instruments quoted by the Scottish Government, and what law above the UK level appears to require. The briefing note can be downloaded here.


October 2019: 20 questions on GRA reform and gender self-declaration 

This blog sets out twenty questions on how the Scottish Government anticipate that a reformed GRA based on self-declaration will work in law, the evidence base for reform, and the Scottish Government position on the Equality Act 2010. These are questions to which the answers are currently contested, answered implicitly but not explicitly in the earlier consultation, or otherwise unclear. 


June 2019: MBM statement on GRA reform 

In June 2019 Cabinet Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced its plans to legislate immediately for gender self-recognition would be paused and that the Scottish Government would publish a draft Gender Recognition (Scotland) Bill for consultation later in the year.

“We believe that a more measured, evidence-based and inclusive approach to reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) will result in better policy and legislative outcomes, for all affected groups.

The Scottish Government needs to address the existing evidence gaps and provide clarity on how it expects its proposals to affect the practical operation of the single-sex protections set out in the Equality Act 2010. It should also undertake a full, detailed Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA). It also needs to be clear on what is meant by bringing Scotland ‘in line with international best practice’ and provide detailed evidence on the operation of self-identification in other countries.”

Our full statement on this announcement is here. We were also quoted in the Guardian, Herald and Scotsman about the Scottish Government’s plans:    


April 2019: SNP politicians’s letter on GRA reform 

In April 2019 fifteen SNP MSPs, MPs and councillors wrote an open letter calling for a more cautious approach to proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). Our response to the letter is here.


January 2019: Multi-signatory letter to the Times on GRA reform

In January 2019 we organised a multi-signatory letter calling for a full Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) on GRA reform, which was covered as a front page news story (29 January 2019). The letter can be accessed here


January 2019: Call for a full Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) on GRA reform 

In January 2019 we wrote to the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls, asking if Council members would consider calling on the Scottish Government to undertake a full Equality Impact Assessment on its GRA proposals. In response, the NACWAG stated that it did not believe that it was the correct channel for this proposal.
We believe the absence of a proper EQIA has been detrimental to public debate on GRA reform and will be a detriment to any legislative process if it is not rectified. We therefore hope that Council members will firstly consider calling on the Scottish Government to undertake a full EQIA of its proposals, before proceeding with reform of the GRA, and secondly that they will convey a more general message to the Scottish Government that EQIAs relating to the protected characteristic of “sex” should be given proper priority in every case where they are relevant
Our letter and the NACWAG response are shown here

December 2019: Letter to the Sunday Times calling for a full EQIA on GRA reform

sunday times


February 2019: Due diligence and the unregulated introduction of gender self-identification policies

In part, the ambiguities described above reflect the complex and close relationships between public and third sector organisations in Scotland, and the prevalence of co-production within policy-making. The fundamental issue is what might be summarised as a lack of due diligence, due most probably to an absence of clear responsibility for ensuring all necessary impact assessments are undertaken, for all protected characteristics, and independent advice taken on points of law, before documents are issued and promoted. Perhaps more value should also be placed on maintaining some critical distance between everyone involved in cases such as these

For full post see here.


December 2018: How Scotland’s Local Authorities represent the protected characteristic of ‘sex’

For full post, see here.


Party manifesto commitments on GRA reform

The following posts set out details of existing political party commitments on GRA reform, as stated in the 2017 UK general election and 2016 Holyrood election: 

2017 UK general election party manifesto commitments on GRA reform
2016 Holyrood election party manifesto commitments on GRA reform

%d bloggers like this: