SNP concerned gender laws are ‘vote‑killer’ The Sunday Times 30.06.19

The original article is here.

Controversial reform of gender law in Scotland is unlikely to take effect for at least two years, The Sunday Times has learnt.

Several SNP figures, including a minister, are understood to be deeply worried that plans to make it easier for individuals to switch gender could damage the party’s performance at the Holyrood elections in May 2021.

Their preference is for a draft bill to be published towards the end of this year or early 2020, which would almost certainly delay the new law until after the next election. The disclosure will dismay equality campaigners who expect the draft bill to be drawn up swiftly when MSPs return to parliament after the summer.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to make Scotland “fairer for transgender people”, but reform is on hold amid a backlash from SNP politicians and women’s rights groups. Concern has largely focused on the possible effect that allowing people to self-identify their gender will have on single-sex spaces such as changing rooms, and women-only shortlists.

The Scottish government has said it is committed to updating the Gender Recognition Act but that new legislation will only be introduced after further consultation is held to build “maximum consensus”.

A senior SNP source told this newspaper of a growing consensus within party ranks to prevent the law from taking effect before May 2021.

“If there is any delay in the consultation process beyond next summer, then there will not be enough time to get this on the statute book before the next election,” said the source.

Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said the suggestion of a delay “to preserve SNP unity” would “leave a sour taste in the mouths of campaigners”.

Feminist campaign group Women and Girls in Scotland said: “It is important to get this right. If this takes time, so be it.”