Bishops’ Conference of Scotland Statement on Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill
The Church is pastorally sensitive to the experience of those who desire to have a body and identity other than their biological sex. They are to be met with compassion and a particular care and support in the challenges and distress that come with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
We are gravely concerned about the changes proposed by the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
The Bill introduces a system of self-identification, allowing a person to change their legal sex without the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria or having to consult a doctor. Removing this requirement and denying the important medical oversight that goes with it, will inevitably reduce the opportunity for crucial healthcare, support, and protection for vulnerable individuals, including children.
Children must be protected from making permanent legal declarations about their gender which may lead to irreversible elective interventions, including surgery. Lowering the minimum age from 18 to 16 and introducing a system of self-identification will put more children and young people on this path. Our concerns are amplified by the intervention of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, which has described the Bill as ‘unsafe’ and likely to harm young people.
Women’s organisations also have recorded their own concerns about the Bill, principally that the proposed reforms will increase risks to the safety of women and girls by men self-declaring as female and accessing women-only spaces. There are also real concerns that the proposals will mean a female healthcare practitioner will no longer be guaranteed for women and girls, even when it is requested.
The freedom to hold the reasonable view that sex and gender are given and immutable and disagree with the idea of gender as fluid and separable from biological sex should be upheld. Particularly for those who work in education, healthcare, the prison service, or as marriage celebrants who, from both reasonable and religious perspectives, hold an understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
We urge members of the Scottish Parliament to uphold these freedoms and to oppose this Bill.