British PM and Scotland Could be Set for Showdown Over Gender Law

January 16, 2023

Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister is considering blocking a new law that makes it easier for people in Scotland to change their gender—potentially setting up a conflict over both transgender rights and the nationalist Scottish administration.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Monday that it would be an “outrage” if Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government vetoed the gender recognition legislation, which was approved by the Scottish parliament last month.

No British Prime Minister has ever used the position’s power to block a law passed by the Scottish Parliament. And Sunak’s office has said no decision has been made but that it had concerns about the law, “particularly around safety issues for women and children.” However, three people close to discussions in Downing Street told the Financial Times that blocking it was indeed Sunak’s intention. “The legal advice is clear,” said one.

The Prime Minister intends to appease critics by separately bringing forward long-delayed UK legislation to ban conversion therapy, including for transgender people, the Financial Times reports.

The gender recognition law would allow people age 16 or older in Scotland to change the gender designation on their identity documents by self-declaration, removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

The bill passed on December 22, six years after it was first proposed by Sturgeon, giving the UK government 28 days, or until January 19, to decide whether to prohibit it from becoming law.

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