KEIR Starmer is facing a backlash from within his own party after he said he had “concerns” about gender reform in Scotland – despite Labour supporting the bill at Holyrood.

Anas Sarwar whipped his MSPs to support the Gender Reform Recognition Bill, which was voted through the Scottish Parliament ahead of Christmas.

However, speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, Starmer said he had “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 Scottish Labour’s support for the bill, the UK party leader said: “Well that was a matter for Scottish Labour. I’m telling you what the position is in relation to the whole Labour party.

“Our position is we want to modernise the legislation and to make sure that some of the indignities that are there in the process are taken out of the process.”

Starmer’s comments have sparked a backlash from within his own party. The Scottish Labour-affiliated LGBT+ Labour Scotland wrote on Twitter: “It’s outrageous that the UK Gov would seek to shatter the devolution settlement by overturning an 86-39 majority of MSPs by using [section 35 of the Scotland Act] for the first time in the Scottish Parliament’s history.

“Whatever you think of the GRR, this attack on democracy should be opposed by Labour.”

The post was shared by their sister campaign in Wales, where Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford has expressed support for the Scottish bill, suggesting his country should follow suit.

The LGBT+ Labour Scotland criticism was also shared by some Labour councillors.

Dr Rohit Dasgupta, a representative in Newham, London who also lecturers at the University of Glasgow, commented: “It is outrageous that Westminster wants to overturn a democratic decision passed overwhelmingly in Scottish Parliament with the support of majority Labour MSPs. Solidarity.”

One Labour MSP told the BBC that the “UK Labour membership must respect that members of the Scottish Parliament are sovereign in this matter".

They added that is Starmer backs the UK Government in efforts to block the bill then there would be "significant consequences".

The Labour for Trans Rights campaign, in a post shared by the influential Momentum grassroots group, said it was “horrifying to see that Keir Starmer cannot bring himself to support bare minimum legislation, undermining the great work done by Scottish Labour”.

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“He could not commit to even allowing the passage of Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Act were he in government.

“This blatantly disrespects the devolution settlement – one of Labour’s proudest achievements in government,” the group wrote.

Further criticism came from Naomi McAuliffe, the head of Amnesty Scotland, who said Starmer’s comments did not give his MSPs the respect they deserve.

McAuliffe said: “This really doesn't give Labour MSPs such as Pam Duncan-Glancy the respect they deserve for the work put in on this bill.

“If you have these concerns, perhaps discuss them with greater experts within your own party?”

SNP equalities minister Christina McKelvie said Starmer “doesn’t trust his own Labour colleagues in Scotland”.

And SNP MP Stewart McDonald commented: “Has he really sat there whilst Labour MSPs – including Sarwar – make the case for the bill and vote for it, now to think the branch office needs a telling off because he thinks it’s a vote winner? By backing the Tories to undermine his own MSPs and devolution all in one go?”

Also speaking on Sunday, UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the Tory government is awaiting legal advice on how Scotland’s new gender recognition laws may affect other parts of the UK before it decides whether or not to intervene.

Harper told the BBC: “The Prime Minister set out the position very clearly this week when he was in Scotland. The decision will be for the Government, it is technically a decision for the Scottish Secretary, and one of the things we are waiting to see is some detailed legal advice about the impact of that legislation on the rest of the UK.”

Starmer said he would wait to see what action the UK Government would take when asked whether he would block Scotland’s gender recognition laws if he was prime minister.