LGBTQ+ Organisations to intervene on the UK Government's Block on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill in Scotland | Stonewall
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LGBTQ+ Organisations to intervene on the UK Government's Block on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill in Scotland

18th August 2023, London – Europe's largest LGBTQ+ right charity Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and the Institute for Constitutional and Democratic Research (ICDR) have together been granted leave to intervene in an important Scottish judicial review in which the Scottish Government is challenging the UK Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack MP, on the issuing of a “section 35” order to block the passage of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill into law. 

A senior judge has permitted these organisations to submit written evidence to the court, outlining their rationale behind challenging the UK Government’s stance that there would be adverse consequences if the Bill became law 

Each of these charities represents a different area of relevant expertise, and by working together they will seek to provide evidence to the court demonstrating that:

  • International comparators demonstrate that measures similar to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill have been implemented in comparable jurisdictions, without many or all of the adverse impacts which have been identified in the UK government Statement of Reasons. 
  • The “adverse impacts” on equalities law identified by the UK Government are, in fact, unlikely to occur or will only occur in very rare factual contexts 
  • Parliament did not intend the section 35 powers be used in the case of a mere policy disagreement or without first exhausting other avenues for dialogue between the UK Government and Scottish Parliament.

Colin Macfarlane, Director of Nations at Stonewall said: “The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of MSPs from across all the political parties in the Scottish Parliament.   The Bill, as passed, would mean the process that trans men and trans women use to update the sex recorded on their birth certificates would no longer be intrusive and dehumanising.  It would also bring Scotland into line with international best practice.  More than 30 countries or territories around the world such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland have similar or more progressive laws and we want Scotland to join them so our trans friends, family and colleagues can live their lives with dignity.’’ 

Victoria Grace, Chief Operations Officer of the ICDR said: “Constitutional questions like this one aren’t just between governments. They impact on every citizen. Interventions like this one are an essential way for civil society to ensure that the court has all the information it needs to make a proper decision. The ICDR is delighted to have the opportunity to join with other civil society organisations to assist the court in this manner.”

Jay Stewart, CEO of Gendered Intelligence said: “Trans people should be able to live their lives with dignity and autonomy. Gender Recognition Reform is about trans people not relying on medical practitioners to ‘authorise’ any one person’s gender. There are many countries across the world, including very recently Spain, where trans people can self-determine their legal gender. That Scotland has democratically decided that its trans citizens should be able to do the same should be upheld and respected. As a trans-led organisation, Gendered Intelligence is working hard to protect our human rights and we are pleased to be working alongside our colleagues Stonewall and ICDR to intervene in this case.” 

Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and the ICDR are represented by DLA Piper Scotland LLP. James Findlay K.C. and David Blair are instructed in the intervention. Robin Moira White, Adam Wagner, Sam Fowles and Stephanie Davin are also assisting in the proceedings. All are acting pro bono. 

Enquiries: Please contact the Press Office in case of any follow-up questions on 020 7593 1856 or at for more information. 

About Stonewall 

Stonewall is the UK’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, working to create a world where every lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer person is free to be themselves – wherever they are. 

It was founded in 1989 by a small group of people who wanted to break down barriers to equality. Stonewall continues to campaign on LGBT Equality, as well as work with employers and schools to create environments which allow LGBTQ+ people to thrive. 

To get involved visit us at | Registered charity number 1101255 

About Gendered Intelligence 

Gendered Intelligence is a registered charity that works to increase understandings of gender diversity and improve the lives of trans people. 

Our vision is of a world where diverse gender expressions are visible and valued, and where trans, non-binary, gender diverse and gender questioning people live healthy, safe and fulfilled lives. 

We are a trans-led and trans-involving grassroots organisation with a wealth of lived experience, community connections of many kinds, and a depth and breadth of trans community knowledge that is second to none. The team has a variety of professional and academic specialisms and qualifications including training and facilitation, youth work, policy, the arts, and doctorates in trans-related studies. 

We aim to be thought leaders in this field, bringing positivity, passion and professionalism to everything we do. With our open and non-judgmental approach we want to enable nuanced discussion. 

About the Institute for Constitutional and Democratic Research (ICDR) 

The Institute for Constitutional & Democratic Research (ICDR) seeks to improve our constitutional conversation through public education and thought leadership. It works to open the legal and academic bubble, bringing the best constitutional minds in the country to legislators, government, and the public at large. The ICDR is entirely non-partisan. It works with legislators through the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution. It also engages with select committee and public inquiries as well as officials in Westminster, the devolved legislatures and executives, and local government. Its ideas are developed by a panel of fellows drawn from the leading constitutional experts at the bar, in academia, on the roll, and in other areas of practice. It utilises the media, events, conferences, blogs, longer form research, briefings, videos, and educational materials to make ideas as accessible as possible to legislators, policymakers, and members of the public. 

The Institute’s mission is to 1) advise legislators and officials at all levels of government and devolution with non-partisan, concise, accessible, and strategic advice on constitutional and democratic issues; 2) empower citizens to engage in constitutional discourse through public education; 3) provide thought leadership by providing a platform for the nation’s leading constitutional minds to engage with our most pressing constitutional challenges. 

About Advocates and Barristers 

James Findlay KC practices from both Terra Firma Chambers in Edinburgh and Cornerstone Barristers in London and he specialisms include public, planning and environmental law.  

David Blair practises from Axiom Advocates. He specialises in public law and human rights litigation. 

Adam Wagner is a public law and human rights specialist and is a member of Doughty Street Chambers. He is also a visiting professor of law at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Sam Fowles specialises in public and constitutional law and human rights. He practices from Cornerstone Barristers and is an associate at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. 

Stephanie Davin is a member of Doughty Street Chambers practicing in public and civil law. She has a background in policy work and a master's in Gender Studies. 

Robin Moira White practises in discrimination and employment law across the whole of the U.K. from Old Square Chambers, London.