Sturgeon could ‘water down gender law changes’ says pundit
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has blocked Nicola Sturgeon’s controversial gender recognition bill, claiming it would have a “significant impact” on existing equality laws. Westminister confirmed it would veto the bill which would have made it easier for people in Scotland to change their legal gender. Ms Sturgeon has contested the decision, but a staggering 97 per cent of Express.co.uk readers supported the move, a new poll has found.
Scottish secretary Alister Jack said Westminster would use section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 for the first time to block the gender recognition bill following a review by UK Government lawyers. He hoped Westminster could work with Ms Sturgeon to put forward an amended Bill.
He said: “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.”
Ministers have said the content of the Bill is not an issue, which allows someone to legally change their gender from 16 instead of 18, and removes the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, reducing the time an individual is required to live in their acquired gender. Instead, it is how Scotland would be divided from the rest of the UK and that it interferes with the Equality Act.
Ms Sturgeon slammed the decision, tweeting that it was a “full-frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions on devolved matters”.
In a poll that ran from 1pm on Tuesday, January 17, to 11am on Thursday, January 19, Express.co.uk asked readers: “Was Rishi Sunak right to block Scotland’s gender recognition bill?”
Overall, 6,357 readers responded with the overwhelming majority, 97 per cent (6,146 people) answering “yes” in support of Mr Sunak’s decision.
In contrast, three per cent (189 people) said “no” Mr Sunak was wrong, while 22 people said they did not know.
Hundreds of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers shared their thoughts on Scotland’s gender recognition bill in a lively debate.
Many readers commented in support of Westminster blocking the legislation, with username sovereignty writing that Mr Sunak was “100 per cent correct”.
Others argued that it breached Scotland’s devolved powers. Username SanjayP said: “Of course he was right. It oversteps the devolved assembly’s powers. Sturgeon cannot pass laws that affect the rest of the UK.”
Similarly, username jacksdad said: “I suspect this goes beyond the remit of Holyrood and is something that will conflict with the rights of people across the rest of the UK.”
And username boneca added: “If it is in breach of the devolved powers, then, of course, he is , Sturgeon can’t just make up her own laws as she goes.”
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However, some readers thought Westminster should not have a say, like username nyami, who wrote: “This matter should not even be up for debate!”
While username DrfGhyt wrote: “A huge mistake by Westminster. This will simply let the Scottish people see what the English are capable of…This makes the case for independence much stronger. We need to have control of our own country and get away from English dominance.”
Another, username Theresistance, said: “It is non of England’s business.”
Ms Sturgeon has said her Government will seek judicial review to appeal the UK’s blocking, warning that “it will inevitably end up in court”.
She explained: “t doesn’t automatically go to the Supreme Court as another part of the Scotland Act would have resulted in, so this is something the Scottish Government will have to judicially review.
“Now, obviously, we will see what reasons the UK Government managed to set out in the order they present before the House of Commons. But I can say categorically, the Scottish Government will vigorously defend this legislation.”
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