Scottish separatists divided over transgender rights

The Scottish National Party (SNP), the Scottish independence party in power in Holyrood (the Parliament of Edinburgh) for fourteen years, held its annual conference from September 10 to 13. The meeting was entirely virtual because of the fourth wave of the Covid-19: as much to say that it lacked atmosphere, between pre-recorded speeches of the leaders, Nicola Sturgeon, the Prime Minister, or John Swinney, his deputy, and taken of word of activists lost in the flow of social networks.

Party members still voted by a large majority for the creation of a national energy company – a major cause for concern a month and a half before the opening of COP26 in Glasgow, the economic capital of Scotland. They obviously debated a lot about a second referendum on the country’s independence after the failed 2014 one (55.3% of Scots voted to remain British). But, despite the frustration of many delegates, the very cautious Nicola Sturgeon was careful not to go further than her vague promise of a poll. “After the pandemic crisis” and, ideally, before the end of 2023.

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At least the party has managed to avoid the subject that has divided it the most for at least two years: the rights of transsexuals. In 2016, the SNP announced that it wanted to review a British law (the Gender Recognition Act, GRA) in order to facilitate and accelerate the recognition of a person’s new sexual identity. Under the terms of the GRA, a person can have their gender identity changed on their birth certificate provided they have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and can prove that they have lived for at least two years. years in accordance with his new sexual identity.

Anger of feminist associations

The new law proposes to dispense with the medical diagnosis and to increase to six months the period during which a trans person must have lived in accordance with their new sexual identity. “The SNP is keen to present itself as a very progressive party with values ​​close to those of the Scandinavian democracies and, above all, it wants to be seen as the antithesis of the British conservative government. He may have thought that reforming the GRA would be an easy political victory. But he was wrong ”, says Sarah Pedersen, a specialist in Scottish feminist movements at Robert-Gordon University in Aberdeen.

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