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“Undemocratic and unjustifiable”: Students across the UK and Europe condemn the UK Government’s move to block the GRR (Scotland) Bill.

“Undemocratic and unjustifiable”: Students across the UK and Europe condemn the UK Government’s move to block the GRR (Scotland) Bill. 80 students’ unions, associations, and societies have signed an open letter to Kemi Badenoch, UK Minister for Women and Equalities, and Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland, demanding that they withdraw their move to block the passing of the GRR (Scotland) Bill into law.

For the first time in the history of devolution, Westminster has used a Section 35 Order to stop the GRR Bill from becoming law in Scotland, despite overwhelming cross-party support from the Scottish Parliament.

The GRR Bill would de-medicalise the process of a person legally changing their gender, making it easier for transgender people to legally identify as the gender they are; a system already in place in 13 other nations. 

The open letter, organised by NUS UK and NUS Scotland, has so far been signed by six UK Student Associations, 63 student societies, and four student organisations, alongsideseven international student associations.

Commenting, NUS Scotland President, Ellie Gomersall, said:

“I am proud that the student movement, both national and international, has come together to fight this undemocratic and unjustifiable attempt to stop the Gender Recognition Reform Bill from becoming law.

“The GRR Bill passed through Scottish Parliament democratically. It was a victory hard won by LGBTQ+ campaigners and supported by MSPs from every party.

“This action from the UK government is a clear attempt to undermines Scotland’s democracy.

“The student movement will resist all attempts to block democracy and dehumanise trans people.”

Commenting, NUS UK Vice President for Liberation and Equality, Nehaal Bajwa, said:

“I want trans and non-binary people in Scotland and across the UK to know that you have my solidarity and love. This decision by the UK government is deeply enraging and cruel.

“For an all-too-brief moment, trans people in Scotland and across the UK saw what it could be like to be free of intrusive medical diagnoses just to be legally recognised as who they are. The UK Government’s use of a Section 35 Order to block the GRR Bill took this away, exposing the government’s lack of compassion for trans people.

“This Bill was passed in Scotland as a result of a brilliant campaign. We can work together to push back on this government’s decision. Our open letter has been signed by 80 organisations from across the UK and the world: LGBTQ+ people and our allies are ready to resist this undemocratic act.”

The Letter:

Dear Kemi Badenoch MP, Minister for Women and Equalities

Dear Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland

We, as trans and non-binary people and allies, are writing you today to set out our strong opposition to removing the reciprocal gender recognition arrangements for countries on the UK Government’s approved list, and to blocking the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. 

Over 350 million people in the world already live in countries that have in place a de-medicalised system of gender recognition, a system UN Special Rapporteur Victor Madrigal-Borloz has called the “most efficient and appropriate” way to realise the human rights of trans people. 

Yet while other countries like Spain or Finland seek to improve the lives of trans people by considering new laws to advance this approach, your proposals could trash the UK’s record and reputation on LGBT+ rights. 

An overwhelming majority of the Scottish Parliament, including MSPs from every party including your own, passed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. It is undemocratic and unjustifiable to block the legislation or deny the recognition of Gender Recognition Certificates issued in Scotland in England and Wales. 

The student movement has a long and proud history of standing up for the rights LGBT+ people – for 50 years we have campaigned, and won, change.  Collectively, we now represent over 7 million students across the UK – if you persist with these damaging proposals, we will resist.

Yours sincerely,

Nehaal Bajwa, NUS VP Liberation and Equality 

Ellie Gomersall, NUS Scotland President

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