Scottish Labour must not throw trans rights under the bus

Labour must not U-turn on trans rights.

The Scottish Labour Party must not ‘throw trans rights under the bus’ as part of Keir Starmer’s campaign to reach Downing Street, according to the Scottish Greens equality spokesperson Maggie Chapman MSP.

Ms Chapman has written to the Labour Party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Ian Murray, calling on him to clarify whether Scottish Labour still supports the principle of self-identification, which Labour MSPs backed in the Scottish Parliament, and how Scottish Labour MPs would vote on trans rights in the future.

Ms Chapman said:

“Keir Starmer has already discarded and dropped so many important policies and betrayed so many communities and vulnerable groups. Whether it is the U-turn on the cruel two-child benefit cap, which he now wants to keep, or his newfound support for the disastrous Brexit he spent years campaigning against. 

“Gender Recognition Reform was supported by the overwhelming majority of the Scottish Parliament, including most Labour MSPs. Self-identification is used around the world. To see Labour backtracking on it is very concerning and disappointing. 

“And let us remember that the legislation passed in Scotland was about making the administrative process of getting a Gender Recognition Certificate that would allow the change of sex on a trans person’s birth certificate easier. It was not about medical transition or any other intervention. Such an administrative process must not continue to be medicalised.

“Ian Murray and Anas Sarwar must make clear exactly where they stand on the use of the anti-democratic Section 35 Order and on self-identification. Trans rights cannot be thrown under the bus as part of an internal Labour power struggle.”

Text of Maggie Chapman’s letter to Ian Murray.

Dear Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I was very disappointed to see the Labour Party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Women & Equalities, Anneliese Dodds MP, using an article in the Guardian to U-turn on the Labour Party’s commitment to self-identification for trans people.

The article also displays a lack of understanding of the situation in Scotland, referring to the policy that the Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly voted for as “cavalier” and “more about picking a fight with Westminster than bringing about meaningful change.” 

This is one of the most scrutinised pieces of legislation in the history of the Scottish Parliament and was voted for by a vast majority of MSPs, including Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and most of his Shadow Cabinet.

The use of the Section 35 Order was an attack on trans rights and on devolution. It set an alarming precedent and at the very least has put the rights of a vulnerable community on hold.

This apparent U-turn raises a number of important questions that I, and many others, would like you to clarify.

Would a future Labour government in Westminster respect the right of the Scottish Parliament to legislate on this and other areas or would you seek to keep the Section 35 Order in place?

Would Scottish Labour MPs support the self-identification principle like the vast majority of your Party’s MSPs did, or would they be expected to support the far more conservative and medicalised route advocated for by Annaliese Dodds?

From scrapping Section 28 to introducing equal marriage, the Labour Party has played an important role in advancing important equality legislation. That is precisely why it is so concerning to see the Party moving away from very basic equality principles that are already used across the world.

I look forward to hearing from you, and hope that we can work together to ensure a fairer and more equal future for our LGBTQIA+ community in Scotland and beyond.

Many thanks

Maggie Chapman MSP