Minister Resigns Over Gender Reform Bill That Allows Self-ID: ‘My Conscience Will Not Allow Me’

Minister Resigns Over Gender Reform Bill That Allows Self-ID: ‘My Conscience Will Not Allow Me’
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, on June 28, 2022. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Owen Evans

Community safety minister Ash Regan has quit hours before legislation that would allow people in Scotland to legally change gender by making a statutory declaration was due to go to a vote.

The Scottish National Party frontbencher has said her “conscience” would not allow her to vote with the Scottish Government and back the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill at stage one on Thursday.

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill will allow individuals to change their sex by simply making a statutory declaration.

The age people can apply to the gender recognition process will be reduced from 18 to 16. Furthermore, the time period applicants need to live in the acquired gender will be reduced from two years to three months, with the requirement for a medical diagnosis and evidence removed.

There will be no requirement under the Bill for an applicant to undergo surgery or hormone therapy and it'll also simplify the process to change sex on birth certificates.

‘Resign My Position’

The Scotsman reported that the Bill is all “but guaranteed to pass” as the vast majority of the SNP, most of the Scottish Labour party, and all of the Scottish Green and Scottish Liberal Democrats MSPs back the legislation. The Scottish Conservatives have been given a free vote, with most expected to oppose.
In a letter to the First Minister, Regan said: “I have considered the issue of gender recognition reform very carefully over some time.

“I have concluded that my conscience will not allow me to vote with the Government at the stage one of the Bill this afternoon,” she said.

“Consequently, I am writing to resign my position in the Scottish Government as minister for community safety,” added Regan.

Senior SNP politicians such as MP Joanna Cherry, women’s groups, and Harry Potter author JK Rowling have opposed the Bill citing grave concerns around sex-based rights.
Rowling supported a protest rally by wearing a T-shirt calling Scotland’s first minister a “destroyer of women’s rights.

Sturgeon responded by saying “at no stage have you approached me to raise your concerns” about the Bill.

Responding to Regan’s resignation, the First Minister said: “As you are aware, a key requirement of the ministerial code is collective responsibility—a principle essential to effective governance, and which applies across all matters of government policy irrespective of the issue.

“I note that at no stage have you approached me—or indeed the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice—to raise your concerns about the Gender Recognition Reform Bill or the vote this evening.

“However, in circumstances in which a minister is unable to support the Government, it is the case that the only options available are resignation ahead of the vote or dismissal thereafter,” said Sturgeon.

PA media contributed to this report.