Gender recognition reform: Court challenge will end in 'humiliating defeat' says Ash Regan
and live on Freeview channel 276
Humza Yousaf’s decision to mount a legal challenge to the UK’s veto of Scotland’s gender recognition legislation will end in “humiliating defeat”, former SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan has claimed.
The new First Minister is pressing ahead with predecessor Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to go to court over the unprecedented use of a Section 35 order to block the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill passed by the Scottish Parliament from receiving Royal assent.
The Scottish Government will seek a judicial review of Scottish Secretary Alister Jack’s move despite many warnings that there is little chance of winning the case. Ms Regan, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, resigned from her role as Community Safety Minister last year so she could vote against the Bill, which makes it easier for trans people to change their legally recognised gender.
After the announcement of the court challenge, she tweeted: “The decision to challenge the Section 35 will result in a humiliating defeat. The GRR is deeply unpopular amongst Scottish voters and court action will cost a vast amount of taxpayers money. Losing 30k party members over this policy means it’s time for a re-think.”
Meanwhile, former First Minister and Alba party leader Alex Salmond said Mr Yousaf had "embarked on the ultimate lose/lose gambit." He said: "If he loses the case, he is humiliated by Westminster. If he wins it, he loses with the Scottish people."
And Alex Neil, a former SNP Health Secretary, said: "Every lawyer I have spoken to has told me we don't have a cat in hell's chance of winning. My own view is in terms of the challenge to the UK Government it would be far better just to reintroduce a Bill and this time in the Bill deal with concerns of women about places of safety for women and also deal with the UK Equality Act. Let’s not hand this over to the Supreme Court in London. Let’s sort it out ourselves and pass a Bill that we can all unite behind and all be proud of.”
Announcing the decision to seek a judicial review earlier this week, Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the UK veto represented an "unprecedented challenge" to the Scottish Parliament's ability to legislate on devolved issues and risked "setting a dangerous constitutional precedent". She also said a court ruling would provide "clarity on the interpretation and scope" of the UK Government’s veto powers.
Mr Jack has said he will "robustly defend" the use of Section 35 in the courts.