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Scottish Parliament public gallery kicks off over GRR ammendment defeat

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Scottish Parliament public gallery kicks off over GRR ammendment defeat
The Scottish Parliament debating chamber where Scottish GRA reform was recently debated

As we hear arguments for and against ammendments for the Gender Recognition Reform bill and the ultimate decision on whether it will pass; the Scottish Parliament public gallery has kicked off.

Shouts of “shame on you” and “there’s no democracy here” could be heard over the livestream.This as the Scottish Parliament public gallery were not happy that an ammendment regarding sex offenders and the Gender Recognition Act was defeated.

We have heard numerous arguments in favour and against numerous ammendments regarding sex offenders and their access to the gender recognition act. Those in favour argue it is a necessary step towards protecting and safeguarding cisgender women from ‘bad faith actors’ – while also allowing “genuine transsexuals” to change our birth certificates.

However as speakers against the ammendments pointed out; the current GRA provision makes absolutely no mention of sex offenders whatsoever. Plans to refuse access to sex offenders could fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights as last I checked sex offenders were still human and still had access to those rights. Meaning the GRA, which was mandated via Article 9 of the ECHR, likely cannot simply be refused or revoked to a transgender person – even if they are a sex offender.

Rightly so in my opinion; we do not remove the legal sex of cisgender women who commit heinous sexual offences, we do not remove the legal sex of cisgender men who commit heinous sexual offences. Singling out transgender people for this act of legal sex revocation is in and of itself an act of discrimination and a further attempt to demonise and stigmatise transgender lives.

It is utterly abhorrent that some politicians – even those who are ostensibly trans inclusive – support measures which would codify this idea of optional respect from the state for trans identities into our law, in my opinion. If protections are needed then modify sex offender law instead – it has nothing to do with whether someone is or is not transgender.

This group of ammendments was defeated with a very close vote of 59 Yes to 64 No. Immediately after the result was announced the Scottish Parliament public gallery erupted with cries of “there’s no democracy here” and “shame on you”. The stream then paused for almost an hour until it was resumed.

A trans commentator in the public gallery by the name of Beth reports that off-screen the group were also heard saying “you’ll have to arrest us” after being asked to leave. Additionally she reports that she was told someone from that group also threatened a cisgender woman for using a women’s toilet. 

Beth also reports having received a direct message the evening before this event. The message warns that around two weeks ago they became aware of of action by anti-trans groups to fill the public gallery both on Tuesday and on Wednesday. This they believe was with the objective of causing significant disruption, with “some chat about voting not ending until 10pm on both days”.

The public gallery was initially empty as the session resumed. Members expressed concerns over whether their constituents would be allowed back in. The Scottish Parliament public gallery was allowed back in within 10 minutes of the stream reconvening.