Keir Starmer voices concerns about Scotland’s new gender reforms – setting himself in opposition to his own MSPs

KEIR Starmer has set himself in opposition to his own MSPs, after voicing ‘concerns’ about Scotland’s new gender reforms.

The Labour leader warned 16-year-old’s are too young to change their gender, in a damning intervention on the Gender Recognition Reforms.


Keir Starmer voiced ‘concerns’ about Scotland’s new gender reformsCredit: Alamy

It comes after Scots Labour leader Anas Sarwar and most of his MSPs backed the move, which passed through Holyrood in December. Only a few desented.

Sir Keir said he had specific concerns about lowering the age at which someone can legally change their gender from 18 to 16, but  also raised issues around the Equality Act and access to single-sex spaces.

The new legislation will also allow trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate without the need for a medical diagnosis.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: “I have concerns about the provision in Scotland, in particular the age reduction to 16 and in particular the rejection of our amendment in relation to the Equalities Act.”

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Pressed on whether he thinks someone of 16 is old enough to decide to change their gender, he replied: “No, I don’t think you are.”

The UK Government is currently considering legal advice about whether to use its powers to block the Bill from becoming law.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke during a visit to Scotland last week about his own concerns over the changes it would enact and how it will impact on the rest of the UK.

Downing Street officials said on Saturday that the full legal advice to ministers has not yet been reviewed and no decisions have been made.

Sir Keir did not rule out backing UK Government ministers in blocking the legislation, claiming he would wait to see what they do before deciding.

He said: “There are a small number of people who don’t identify with the gender that they’re born into. There is a process that they can go through at the moment.

“There are indignities in that process that I think could be improved through modernising the legislation, but what I don’t want to get drawn into is the usual, toxic political football that this always seems to become.”

Asked if he would mirror Scotland’s legislation if he wins the next general election, Sir Keir said: “We want to modernise the system. We’re looking at what the options are. There are all sorts of different definitions in relation to self-certification.

“So far as the Scotland provision is concerned, I do have concerns about the age of transition, reduced now to 16, and also the primacy of the Equality Act, which is very important when it comes to things like safe spaces.”

However, he claimed it was a matter for Scottish Labour on how they viewed the legislation and last night  they  refused to comment.

Senior sources acknowledged there was a “slight difference of opinion,” but claimed everyone in the Labour party agreed with gender reforms.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show, Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said: “We elect members to the Scottish Parliament to create legislation to put in place the laws to enhance the lives of people in Scotland.

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“The GRR will do just that.

“What we have is a right-wing UK Conservative Government which is seeking to roll back on the democratic powers of the Scottish Parliament – that’s an outrage.”

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