Nicola Sturgeon faces legal battle over plans to let trans people choose their sex on census


Nicola Sturgeon faces legal battle from campaigners over plans to let transgender people choose their sex on next year’s census in Scotland

  • Campaigners said that trans people should not be able to self-identify their sex
  • The Scottish Government wants to allow self-identify on next year’s census
  • Sturgeon is planning moves to make legally changing sex easier in Scotland 


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Nicola Sturgeon is facing a legal battle over plans to allow transgender people to choose what sex they are in next year’s census, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Campaigners at Fair Play for Women have launched a judicial review after SNP Ministers decided to let participants ‘self-identify’ as male or female.

That move ignored a High Court ruling in London that people must base their answer on the sex listed on their birth certificate or gender recognition certificate.

The court action comes as the First Minister plans to introduce legislation to make it easier for people to legally change sex in Scotland without medical checks.

Guidance for the question ‘what is your sex?’ in Scotland’s census, which was delayed for a year due to Covid, says: ‘If you are transgender the answer you give can be different from what is on your birth certificate. You do not need a gender recognition certificate.’

Dr Nicola Williams is leading the campaign against the planned changes to allow transgender people to legally change their sex without medical checks

Dr Nicola Williams is leading the campaign against the planned changes to allow transgender people to legally change their sex without medical checks

Women’s rights campaigners claim that the guidance is ‘unlawful and directly impacts the rights of women and girls’ – because the census is used to plan government policy.

Earlier this year, Fair Play For Women – established ‘to protect the rights of women and girls in the UK’ – won a High Court case over similar plans to allow transgender people to pick their sex in the census for England and Wales.

Ms Sturgeon’s administration decided that the ruling in London was not binding for its census.

Dr Nicola Williams, director of Fair Play For Women, said: ‘The Office for National Statistics wasted tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money desperate to defend their unlawful position in court. It is beyond belief that the Scottish Government is now doing the same thing.

‘If Nicola Sturgeon wants to change the definition of sex in the Scottish census she must convince her own parliament it’s the right thing to do.

‘She does not have the power to make up her own definition and force it through regardless.

‘There are huge differences between males and females in the UK, in critical areas like crime statistics. That’s why accurate recording of sex matters.

‘The High Court in England backed our position and we are confident that the Scottish court will see it the same way.’

Transgender groups want self-identifying to be easier because getting a gender recognition certificate is a rigorous process.

Ms Sturgeon has vowed to table legislation within the next year to make it easier for people in Scotland to legally change gender

Ms Sturgeon has vowed to table legislation within the next year to make it easier for people in Scotland to legally change gender

Ms Sturgeon has vowed to table legislation within the next year to make it easier for people in Scotland to legally change gender

People have to prove to a Gender Recognition Panel they have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, have already lived in their new gender for at least two years and then make a legally binding declaration they intend to live as this gender for the rest of their life.

Only 6,000 people have completed the process.

Ms Sturgeon has vowed to table legislation within the next year to make it easier for people in Scotland to legally change gender. She said the current process is ‘degrading, intrusive and traumatic’.

She previously said: ‘As an ardent feminist, I don’t see the greater recognition of transgender rights as a threat to me as a woman or to my feminism.’

Her stance is in contrast to the Westminster administration’s position. Women and Equalities Minister Liz Truss recently said transgender people should not be able to legally change their sex without medical checks.

The census in Scotland is the responsibility of cabinet secretary Angus Robertson, a Sturgeon ally tipped as a future SNP leader.

The Government referred inquiries about the legal action to the body running the census, the National Records of Scotland, which declined to respond.

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