Trans people are already among the most marginalised in our society, and it is inexcusable for the UK Government to put them at the centre of an attack on devolution.
The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is clearly within the competence of the Scottish Parliament: it states clearly that it does not modify the Equality Act 2010, nor does it change the effect of a Gender Recognition Certificate.
The Bill was backed by an overwhelming majority in the Scottish Parliament, comprised of members from all parties, and seeks to do something which the Scottish people support: ensure that transgender people can exercise their basic rights and are protected.
In passing the Bill the Scottish Parliament took input from tens of thousands of organisations and individuals through public consultation – independent analysis of which found majority support for reform - and extensive evidence-taking and consideration by the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities Committee.
The use of a Section 35 order to block this Bill is therefore a full-frontal attack on Scottish democracy.
This is the first occasion in almost 25 years of devolution that a UK Government has blocked a Scottish Bill from becoming law. It is unprecedented and without just cause.
This decision was a political one. If the UK Government had legitimate concerns about the content of the Bill, they could have been raised during the almost seven years the Bill has been in development. They were not.
A Section 35 Order, at its inception, was intended to be a matter of last resort, but it has instead been used as a first. To block a Bill passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament, after making no attempt whatsoever to raise or resolve any issues, is a disgrace.
This move by the UK Government represented a dark day for the trans community, not just in Scotland but across the UK, and I think people should be very concerned that this is the thin edge of the wedge for future legislation.
As the latest in a string of increasingly draconian behaviour from the UK Tory government that are pushing through laws in an attempt to ban demonstrations, remove human rights, and put asylum seekers on planes to Rwanda, this move is sadly not without precedent, but is nonetheless reprehensible.
In putting this Bill at the centre of its attack on devolution, the UK Government is fanning the flames of their ongoing culture wars, waged against the transgender community as well as many other marginalised groups.
This has been highlighted by LGBT+ organisations in their strong criticisms of the intervention, and in a joint statement from 15 Scottish civil society organisations including Rape Crisis Scotland, Amnesty International, Scottish Women’s Aid and the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre.
The Scottish Government will examine the reasons given by the UK Government for their order, and take whatever steps they can to vigorously defend the rights of trans people and ensure that the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament is not frustrated.
Please rest assured that my SNP colleagues and I at Westminster will continue to urge the UK Government to do more to protect trans people and will always advocate for members of this incredibly marginalised community to be treated with respect.