SCOTTISH Labour are divided on how to react to the Scottish Government’s decision to challenge the block of the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill.

Humza Yousaf confirmed on Wednesday his Government is taking legal action after the legislation was blocked by the Tories from gaining royal assent with a Section 35 order.

Scottish Labour MSP for Central Scotland, Richard Leonard, welcomed the decision. He tweeted: “The update to gender recognition law passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament would make life a little easier for one of the most persecuted minorities in society.

“It was both necessary and long overdue, and it must be allowed to stand.


MSP for North East Scotland Mercedes Villalba appeared to agree, retweeting Leonard’s statement.

Labour MSP for Central Scotland, Monica Lennon, also backed the move. She tweeted: “Solidarity with trans people in Scotland. 

“The @ScotParl passed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill by a two-thirds majority, including support from all parties. 

“It is right that the Scottish Government is challenging the UK Government’s block on the reforms.”

Scottish Labour Equalities spokesperson Paul O'Kane, meanwhile, was less welcoming.

In a statement, he said: "The election of a new First Minister should have provided a reset moment on this debate. Instead, everyone is being failed by the constitutional row that has engulfed this bill.

"Trans people and women are still being failed and the SNP and Tory governments are doing nothing to find consensus.

"This issue is too important to be reduced to political point scoring or culture wars.

"A fraught and expensive legal battle could have been avoided if both of our governments had been more willing to work in good faith to deliver a bill that works for everyone.

"The real questions here won't be answered in the courts - we need to focus on building consensus and public support for a way forward on reform.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf backed those who supported the challenge, but condemned inaction from Anas Sarwar.

He tweeted: "Shame that @AnasSarwar & Labour leadership are incapable of defending our Scottish Parliament.

"A reminder the UK Govt have refused to meaningfully engage on the GRR Bill, which Anas Sarwar & most of Scottish Labour voted for. Thankfully there are some in Labour who get it." 

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar previously whipped his MSPs to support the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill, which passed in Holyrood in December – however Carol Mochan and Claire Baker both resigned from their frontbench positions in protest.

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer has since signalled that he does not support the legislation, which allows 16-year-olds to legally change their gender, and expressed concern around the implications on the Equality Act.

Scottish Tory equalities spokeswoman Rachael Hamilton has now told Sarwar to confirm whether he will again whip his MSPs to support the Bill if it comes back to Holyrood.

Hamilton said: “With Humza Yousaf seeking a self-serving confrontation with the UK Government in an effort to divert attention from the SNP civil war, the public deserve to know where Scottish Labour stand on this issue.”

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “This is too important an issue to be reduced to a constitutional fight or a culture war.

“The Tories are shamelessly playing politics with people’s rights because they have nothing else to offer Scotland.

“Since the passing of the GRR Bill it feels like everyone has lost. Many in our trans community don’t feel any more protected and many women don’t feel any more reassured.

“The election of a new First Minister should have been a reset moment.

“The sensible way forward would be to ask the Equality and Human Rights Commission to issue its guidance and for both governments to commit to addressing any inconsistencies or issues that it identifies.

“There is a need to build a consensus and take the public with us going forward.”