Legal challenge over gender reform block to be heard next month

The Scottish Government is contesting the use of Section 35 powers by the UK Government.

The Scottish Government’s legal challenge against the UK Government’s decision to block gender reforms has been locked in for September after both parties told a court they are ready to proceed.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service’s (SCTS) planned livestream of the procedural hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Wednesday did not go ahead due to technical issues.

The hearing was intended to be livestreamed as part of the SCTS’s “commitment to open justice”.

However, a statement from the SCTS said: “Due to technical issues we were unable to livestream today’s procedural hearing, which has now concluded.

“It was concluded until September 19 for the substantive hearing. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and are working to resolve any issues for future hearings.”

Scottish Independence
First Minister Humza Yousaf’s Government is challenging a Westminster block on gender recognition reforms (Lesley Martin/PA)

The full hearing will be heard by judge Lady Haldane and will take place at the Court of Session over three days.

In April, First Minister Humza Yousaf confirmed the Scottish Government would mount a legal challenge over the UK Government’s use of Section 35 powers, which prevented the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from gaining royal assent.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack had utilised the never-before-used powers under the Scotland Act – the legislation which established the devolved Scottish Parliament – to halt the gender laws, which aim to make it easier for trans people to self-identify and obtain a gender recognition certificate.

Mr Yousaf said the legal challenge was necessary to “defend the Scottish Parliament’s democracy from the Westminster veto”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak previously said the UK Government had taken “very careful and considered advice” on the issue.

He said his ministers had concerns about how the Scottish laws “would interact with reserved powers, about the operation of the Equalities Act”, as well as over the “protection of women elsewhere in the UK”.

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