Controversial Scottish gender reforms passed by Holyrood after heated debate

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to approve a self-identification system for people who want to change their legal gender. 

The Scottish Parliament backed the controversial proposals by 86 to 39 in the final vote.

The main opposition to the bill was provided by the Scottish Conservative party, but a number of SNP MPs vocally challenged the bill in the months leading up its passage. 

Many on the SNP and Labour benches broke out in applause as the result was announced, before shouts of “shame on you” could be heard from protestors in the public gallery.

Kicking off the debate on Thursday SNP frontbench spokesperson Shona Robison said: “Trans rights are not in competition with women’s rights and as so often before, we can improve things for everyone. When those discriminated against actors, allies, not opponents”.

Providing the Conservative response, Rachael Hamilton said: “It is with regret that I believe that this bill has shown this Parliament at its worst. … Women have real fears on the consequences of this bill and they have been ignored. The first minister [Nicola Sturgeon] has dismissed justified and legitimate concerns as not valid”.

The new rules, which are expected to come into force sometime next year, will also lower the minimum age that people can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) from 18 to 16.

There will be also be a three-month so-called “reflection period”, in which individuals can change their minds. It will be a criminal offence to make a false declaration or false application for a GRC, with anyone who does so potentially facing up to two years in prison.

Thursday’s proceedings at Holyrood, the Scottish parliament, were a continuation of proceedings begun on Wednesday which saw more than 150 proposed amendments to the legislation continued until midnight. MSPs finally ended the debate and voting on the amendments at 01:17 on Thursday.

The SNP frontbench accused the Conservative party of filibustering the bill by proposing numerous points of order and forcing almost all amendments to votes that were sometimes not required.