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Labour Vows To “Modernise” Gender Recognition Law

Labour’s Shadow Equality Minister Anneliese Dodds has said the party will “modernise” the gender recognition bill when it returns to power – despite failing to oppose the Tories’ blocking of Scotland’s gender reform bill a few weeks ago.

LGBTQ+ Labour’s LGBTQ+ History Month reception was held in London on Tuesday (7 February) and included speeches from prominent members of the party including leader Keir Starmer, vice-leader Angela Rayner and Dodds, who is also leader of the party

During the Dodds event outlined the party’s commitments to “end hate crime, ensure healthcare is accessible to all and modernize the Gender Recognition Act”.

Image Credit: Pixabay

At the event, Starmer expressed concern that conservatives want to treat LGBTQ+ issues as “wedge issues” — what he defines as ways to “divide, make things toxic, turn things backwards.”

“We have to call this what it is and we have to challenge it, head-on,” he said.

According to ‘UK Daily News’, the Labor leader also spoke of his own experience as chief prosecutor fighting hate crime more than a decade ago, and “it breaks my heart that things are still improving”.

He added that the Labor Party “[has] to make progress” in gender reassignment and conversion therapy and offers a “different way” of running the country so that “all of our communities are heard, listened to and respected and are part of the team that works for the whole country”.

The Gender Recognition Act was passed by the UK Parliament in 2004, giving trans people the right to change their legal gender.

For years, campaigners and members of the government itself have been calling for the GRA to be updated, with the Committee on Women and Equality recommending in 2021 that Westminster de-medicate the gender recognition process and remove the requirement to live in the acquired gender for two years .

In December 2022, the Scottish Government passed its Gender Recognition Reform Bill (Scotland) by a vote of 86 to 39.

Legislation that would make it easier for trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GCR) was hailed as a triumphant moment for LGBTQ+ rights.

However, in January the UK government used Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 to prevent royal assent to the bill – an unprecedented political move which some said threatened the stability of the Union as a whole.

Labor failed to oppose the move by Rishi Sunak’s government and in a vote to know only 11 Labor MPs rebelled by voting against Section 35, with the rest of the party abstaining.

Notably, those who did not turn up for the vote included Starmer and Dodds.

In a statement shared with PinkNews at the time of the Section 35 vote, Dodds said trans rights should not be used as “political football”.

She said: “This is a leadership failure by both the Conservatives and the SNP.

“Both governments should have worked together to resolve these issues in a sensible, adult way to avoid this constitutional dispute.

“Trans rights and women’s rights must not be used as political soccer balls.

“Labor supports the modernization of the gender recognition process, but we would not have done it that way. For example, UK Labor does not support lowering the age at which you can get a GRC to 16.

“Now we need both governments to act like adults and sort this situation out. This includes the Conservative government making its full legal advice public as soon as possible, as Labor has called for.”

Speaking at an LGBT+ History Month debate in the House of Commons earlier this month, Dodds said Labor will seek to restore Britain’s “reputation as a beacon of LGBT+ freedom and equality”.

Again, she pledged to Labor not to use LGBTQ+ rights as “political football or an afterthought”.

Read related myGwork articles here:

Glasgow Rally Planned After Gender Recognition Bill Blocked

UK Government Plans to Block Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill

Welsh First Minister Backs Scottish Gender Recognition Move

Gender Recognition Reform Bill: Theresa May Disappointed Scotland Changes Not Considered For England

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