Gender Recognition Reform Bill:  Deep flaws at heart of legislation – Neale Hanvey

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Last week Nicola Sturgeon’s government introduced the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (GRRB) at stage one. Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison’s introductory speech sounded reasonable and fair, but that simply does not reflect reality.

The behaviour of the SNP leadership towards anyone with even the most benign question about this legislation has been aggressive, dismissive, and openly hostile.

This hostility is tacitly endorsed by the First Minister as she ignores the deeply offensive and misogynistic abuse levelled at Joanna Cherry MP, former Labour Leader Johann Lamont, JK Rowling and of course many other women and LGB people who have raised genuine concerns about trivialising the process for legal transition.

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I will never understand the motivation of a First Minister who dismisses as invalid the worries and concerns of female survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence about losing access to single-sex refuge and personal care.

Neale Hanvey MPNeale Hanvey MP
Neale Hanvey MP

To be clear, my concerns are not and never have been about trans people.

As someone who’s been involved in child and adult safeguarding for decades, I know how bad actors can take advantage of loose policy. It is therefore inexcusable when bad law discards safeguarding principles established as a consequence of decades of real harm.

This is often dismissed as alarmist and transphobic, but these are universal principles and are there to protect everyone, including trans people. Predators will use any means available to access those upon whom they prey.

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Here in Kirkcaldy, trans identifying Katie Dolatowski was convicted of assaulting a 10-year-old child in a local supermarket toilet. As a direct consequence the media framed this sexual predator as trans. Indeed, across the UK convicted sexual predators are casually identifying as trans to secure transfer to female prisons where some have gone on to viciously attack vulnerable women.

This is just not reflective of the trans people I know.

It is the behaviour of determined sexual predators and legislation must be designed to protect the trans community from being ready cover for such devious individuals.

While I support reform, at my selection hustings I set out the deep flaws in the GRRB proposal. That night my position won the room and was a key factor in securing my candidacy.

Although GRRB has passed stage one, nine courageous SNP MSPs either voted against or abstained, and I know others in the SNP and Labour are holding out for amendments to return safeguarding to the heart of legislation. We will see.