AN SNP MP has laid a written declaration at the Council of Europe urging the UK Government to U-turn on their use of a Section 35 order.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack invoked the little-known part of the Scotland Act earlier this month, stopping Scotland’s gender reforms, which made the process for a transgender person to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) simpler.

And now the SNP’s Hannah Bardell (Livingston) has taken the issue to the Council of Europe (CoE), the continent’s leading human rights organisation, and laid a written declaration that said she believes the move was “deeply regrettable”.

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Bardell moved the declaration at the CoE’s headquarters in Strasbourg, France, on Thursday, and it has been signed by over 20 politicians from 13 countries, with more expected to sign up in the coming days.

This includes Dutch politician Petra Stienen, Sinn Fein’s Paul Gavan, Greece’s George Katrougalos, and Thorhildur Sunna Aevarsdottir, from Iceland’s Pirate Party.

A written declaration allows Assembly of the CoE members to formally express their views on any matter, as long as it is within the CoE’s competence. The motion was titled: “The United Kingdom must allow trans people to live their lives with dignity.”

It set out how the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed in December 2022 by cross-party MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, and had faced two lengthy consultations prior to this.

Bardell’s motion continued: “It is fully in line with international human rights standards, which call for legal gender recognition to be quick, transparent, accessible, and based on self-determination.

“The World Health Organisation is also clear that requiring a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is both outdated and discriminatory and that legislation and healthcare should be modernised to better represent and support the trans community.”

She then referenced several European and Commonwealth countries, including Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Portugal, which have already passed similar legislation to Scotland’s.

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Bardell pointed out that the UK Government had also previously made commitments to pursue similar reforms before U-turning in 2020, after Boris Johnson took over the leadership of the Tory party and became prime minister.

“It is deeply regrettable that the UK Government has now chosen to stand in the way of equality, human rights and progress,” the motion continued.

“We, the undersigned, therefore urge the UK Government to reverse its decision to invoke Section 35 of the Scotland Act to block the Scottish Government’s legislation designed to ensure trans people can live their lives with dignity.”

Speaking after she laid the declaration, Bardell told The National: "The move to block the GRR bill was a political one and a strong message has been sent from the organisations who have signed this declaration that the UK Government is trampling all over devolution with this unprecedented move.

The National: Bardell with Sunna Aevarsdottir, an Icelandic MP.Bardell with Sunna Aevarsdottir, an Icelandic MP. (Image: Supplied)

"The GRR bill was passed by a two-thirds majority of MSPs with support from politicians from every political party at Holyrood.

"A clear message has been sent by the Council of Europe that Scotland's democracy must be protected and respected.”

Bardell said she was delighted to have support from politicians in 13 different nations. She added: "Alister Jack has shown he has no respect for Scotland's parliament as he stands in the way of a bill passed by the parliament and then refuses to come to Scottish Parliament committees to explain his decision.

"His bare-faced attack on devolution and democracy in Scotland is making the case for independence for us and the only way we can protect the future of the Scottish Parliament is with independence."

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We previously told how the SNP Westminster group has lodged a “prayer” motion in the House of Commons in a bid to have the Section 35 order annulled.

The Early Day Motion (EDM) has gathered over 50 signatures with cross-party support from Plaid Cymru, the LibDems, and SDLP, but none from Labour or the Tories.

The UK Government will have to decide whether or not to allocate time for the issue to be debated, and there are only 40 days from the date Jack laid the Section 35 order, January 17, for the annulment to take place.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State for Scotland has made an order under section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, preventing the Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from proceeding to Royal Assent.

“This was done after thorough and careful consideration of all the relevant advice and the policy implications. This legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation.

“Transgender people deserve our respect, support and understanding. Our decision is about the legislation’s consequences for the operation of GB-wide equalities protections and other reserved matters.”