SCOTTISH Labour have been dealt another blow by their own colleagues south of the Border after a key party frontbencher spoke out against one of their policies.

Anneliese Dodds, the shadow equalities secretary, used a comment piece in the Guardian to spell out Labour’s position on gender reform – which is in direct contradiction to Scottish Labour’s position.

Dodds argued for the need for a medical diagnosis before a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) could be awarded.

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Taking aim at the SNP, the Labour MP wrote: “Last year, the Scottish National Party’s cavalier approach to reforming gender recognition laws seemed to be more about picking a fight with Westminster than bringing about meaningful change.

“The safeguards that were proposed to protect women and girls from predators who might abuse the system were simply not up to scratch. As a result, the Scottish Government is still picking up the pieces, with trans rights no further forward.”

The legislation Dodds was referencing, the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, passed Holyrood with support from all five parties in December 2022 but was blocked by the UK Government.

Scottish Labour chiefs had whipped their MSPs to support the bill.

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But Dodds (above) claimed the process had seen “mistakes”, going on: “Requiring a diagnosis upholds legitimacy of applications and confidence in the system.”

However, she argued for a simplification of the process. Dodds said that requiring “a panel of anonymous doctors to decide something of momentous significance, based on reams of intrusive medical paperwork and evidence of any surgery” was “demeaning for trans people and meaningless in practice”.

“A diagnosis provided by one doctor, with a registrar instead of a panel, should be enough,” she wrote.

However, UK Labour’s explicit support for the need for a medical diagnosis directly contradicts the party’s policy north of the Border.

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Speaking in December 2022, during a debate on the gender reform bill, Labour MSP and frontbencher Daniel Johnson had said: “First, it is important that, in our approach to the issue, we seek to demedicalise the process, because it is a mistake to treat trans identity as a medical condition to be diagnosed and, therefore, presided over by the medical profession.

“If there is one thing that should unite us all, it is that objective.”

Other Scottish Labour frontbenchers including education spokesperson Pam Duncan-Glancy and equalities spokesperson Paul O’Kane had also spoke in favour of demedicalisation, while finance spokesperson Michael Marra said in November: “Demedicalisation, which Labour supports … is one of the core purposes of the bill.”

After Dodds’s comment were published on Monday, Labour MSPs Richard Leonard and Monica Lennon – a former group leader and leadership candidate respectively – both spoke out about keeping demedicalisation in gender reform.

O’Kane later confirmed that Scottish Labour still supports demedicalisation.

The divergence is the second between UK and Scottish Labour to open in recent weeks, after Keir Starmer insisted it was not the policy of the party he leads to scrap the two-child benefits cap or associated rape clause.

The Scottish Labour group both insisted it wanted the “heinous” policy scrapped and backed Starmer for refusing to commit to scrapping it.

Dodds’s comments were criticised by Kevin Guyan, a University of Glasgow research fellow and author of Queer Data: Using Gender, Sex and Sexuality Data for Action.

He said the Labour MP’s description of the process in Scotland did “not reflect the reality”, adding: “I didn't think it was possible to feel less enthusiastic about the prospect of a UK Labour Government.”

Guyan wrote: “Dodds frames the problem as a clash between trans people vs women and abandons the self-identification model (instead arguing that a doctor knows a trans person better than they know themselves) as adopted in Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal etc …

“Genuinely keen to hear how progressive Scottish Labour MSPs are able to hold their tongue when *this* is the best that a UK Labour Government can offer in terms of LGBTQ rights.”

Maggie Chapman, the Green MSP, also said that Dodds had shown a “total lack of understanding about what has happened in Scotland”.

She went on: "Far from being 'cavalier', Gender Recognition Reform was one of the most scrutinised bills in the history of our Parliament and was supported by the overwhelming majority of MSPs, including most Labour MSPs.

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"What Labour is proposing [scrapping plans for demedicalisation] would go against the fundamental principle of self-identification.

"Trans rights are human rights. Yet, over recent years in particular, we have seen some of the most vicious and disgraceful disinformation and smears used against our trans siblings.

"This is a time for pro-equality MPs and MSPs from all parties to speak out and stand up for what is right. Instead, Labour is threatening to U-turn on basic equality legislation that is already used around the world."

O’Kane, Dodds’s equalities shadow in Scottish Labour, said: "Labour is committed to modernising and reforming the outdated and intrusive Gender Recognition Act, as well as ensuring exemptions in the Equality Act are upheld.

“Scottish Labour continues to support the de-medicalisation of the process in Scotland.”