Kemi Badenoch blasts gender self-identification

Kemi Badenoch blasts gender self-identification as she says enforcing the controversial policies would make it easier for predators to ‘exploit’ women and girls

  • Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch has argued that sexual predators would be able to ‘exploit any system’ under proposed Scottish reform
  • The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was blocked by Westminster this week 
  • The bill would have allowed trans people to obtain a GRC without a diagnosis 
  • SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon complained of ‘full-frontal attack’ on Scottish Parliament 

Kemi Badenoch has said she is against gender self-identification as she believes its policies would put women and girls at risk of exploitation by predators. 

The Minister for Women and Equalities has argued that sexual predators would be able to ‘exploit any system that says can just say what you are’, just days after Westminster opted to block Scottish Parliament legislation to reform the gender recognition process. 

The Government issued a Section 35 order under the Scotland Act 1998 to block Holyrood’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would have allowed transgender people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) without a medical diagnosis. 

Kemi Badenoch has said she is against gender self-identification as she believes its policies would put women and girls at risk of exploitation by predators

Nicola Sturgeon has warned it is ‘inevitable’ that she will seek a judicial review of the move, branding it a ‘full-frontal attack’ on Holyrood

The bill also lowers the minimum age that Scots can legally change their gender from 18 to 16 and slashes the timescale for obtaining a gender recognition certificate (GRC) from two years to three months for over-18s.

It is the first time UK ministers have used a Section 35 order since devolution more than two decades ago.

Following the blocking of the bill, Ms Badenoch told The Times: ‘We have no problem with that in the sense that we want people who are trans to be able to live their lives freely and as they wish.

‘The problem is that self-identification makes life a lot easier for other people we don’t want to have those sorts of freedoms. Predators would be able to exploit any system that says you can just say you are what you are. 

‘It’s also quite bad for trans people. They then get conflated and associated with the predators and people who are looking to do bad things.’ 

She also said that the debate around transgender rights and freedoms has been ‘toxified’, adding: ‘Rather than having a disagreement on whether you think self-identification is OK or not OK, people who have a different view are then abused, insulted, called transphobic. 

‘That’s what has really toxified the debate, and made a lot of people scared to say what they think.’ 

Alister Jack wrote to Ms Sturgeon earlier this week to inform her of the UK Government’s decision

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack in the Commons broke the news to Ms Sturgeon that the bill was to be blocked in Westminster earlier this week.  

‘After thorough and careful consideration of all the relevant advice and the policy implications, I am concerned that this legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation,’ he said in a statement.

‘Transgender people who are going through the process to change their legal sex deserve our respect, support and understanding.

‘My decision is about the legislation’s consequences for the operation of GB-wide equalities protections and other reserved matters.

‘I have not taken this decision lightly. The bill would have a significant impact on, amongst other things, GB-wide equalities matters in Scotland, England and Wales.

‘I have concluded, therefore, that this is the necessary and correct course of action.’

Nicola Sturgeon has warned it is ‘inevitable’ that she will seek a judicial review of the move, branding it a ‘full-frontal attack’ on Holyrood.

Nicola Sturgeon hit out at a ‘full-frontal attack’ on Holyrood and vowed her Scottish Government would continue to defend the gender legislation

But Conservatives slammed the measures as a ‘pathetic snidey attempt’ to boost the independence drive, and praised Mr Jack for ‘standing up for sex-based rights’.

Former minister Tim Loughton said the row had been ‘confected by the SNP in support of their separatist agenda’.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: ‘I share the concerns about the rights of biological women to single-sex spaces. But I’m most concerned about the capacity of children, minors, to determine their own gender and embark on potentially life-changing physical transformations.

‘This dispute has been confected by the SNP in pursuit of their separatist agenda.

‘So does my right honourable friend agree that it really is shameful that they have weaponised vulnerable children in pursuit of that agenda, and would impose that agenda on the majority of children across the whole of the United Kingdom?’

Mr Jack responded: ‘Yes’. 

Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi, a shadow Northern Ireland minister but speaking from the backbenches, said ‘the rights of women and other vulnerable groups should not be pawns in (Nicola Sturgeon’s) constitutional game playing’.  

Meanwhile, transgender rights charity Stonewall accused the UK Government of using the ‘nuclear option’ in response to the Scottish bill.

The charity’s chief executive, Nancy Kelley, also claimed Mr Sunak was using trans people’s lives as ‘a political football’. 

Rishi Sunak raised his concerns about the reforms with Nicola Sturgeon during a private dinner in Inverness last week

Rishi Sunak raised his concerns with Ms Sturgeon about the bill during a private dinner in Inverness last week.

Speaking to broadcasters afterwards, he said: ‘Obviously this is a very sensitive area and I know there were very robust debates and exchanges on it as the bill was passing in Scotland.

‘What I’m concerned about is the impact of the bill across the United Kingdom. As is entirely standard, the UK Government would take advice on that.

‘There may be impacts across the UK that we need to be aware of and understand the impact of them.

‘That is what we are doing, and once the Government has received final advice it will set out next steps.’

Labour has also aired concerns about the Holyrood legislation.

Sir Keir Starmer has argued that 16 is not old enough to be able to decide to change gender.

The Labour leader also expressed misgivings about the potential impact on UK-wide equalities law, but warned against the issue becoming a ‘political football’.

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