NO further legal action will be taken to fight the UK Government’s block of gender reform legislation in Scotland, the government has confirmed in a statement to MSPs.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday,  Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice Shirley-Anne Somerville apologised to MSPs after Deputy First Minister Shona Robison previously confirmed that the legal challenge would be scrapped

She said that due to the UK Government's : "The bill's reforms remain the government's policy and as we can see from the cross-party support for the bill they remain what this parliament would like to see enacted. 

"However, the UK Government's intervention means the bill cannot proceed to royal assent. It remains a bill passed by the majority of this parliament and we will not be withdrawing it. 

"There is a strong indication that any diversions of approach would be unacceptable to the UK Government. 

"As Alister Jack stated in the Westminster parliament, in short, two different regimes create adverse affects. 

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"It is therefore impossible to see how progress can be made particularly when the rules of this parliament require that amendments at reconsideration are consistent with the bill's general principles as agreed at Stage 1." 

Signalling optimism that a UK Labour government would be willing to collaborate on a way forward for gender recognition reform, Somerville added:

"It is the Scottish Government's view that this UK Government and the Secretary of State see Section 35 as a veto that they can apply to any legislation passed by this chamber that they disagree with. 

"Regardless of peoples views and opinions on gender recognition, that is a very worrying place for our parliament to be. 

"Due to the intransigence of the current UK Government I am confident any repetition of our offer to seek compromise would again be rebuffed. 

"We will therefore focus on working with an incoming UK Government, which we hope will have more respect for devolution and is willing to work together even when, sometimes, we disagree."

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In January, Scotland Secretary Alister Jack made the unprecedented move of using a Section 35 order to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which was passed by a two-thirds majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament in December 2022.

The bill sought to simplify the process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) in Scotland by removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, lowering the age threshold for applicants, and reducing the time people are required to live in their acquired gender before being eligible for a GRC.

Ministers vowed to fight the Section 35 order in the courts.

However, earlier this month the Court of Session ruled that the UK did have the right to block the reforms.

The Scottish Government then had 21 days to appeal the decision.

Somerville added that she understood some transgender people would be disappointed by the Scottish Government's decision not to contest the ruling. 

"To them, I say this. The Scottish Government will never waver in our commitment to your rights. 

"You deserve to be respected, included and supported. You are not a threat and you will always be able to live your lives free from prejudice and abuse in a type of Scotland we all want to see." 

Shortly after Somerville made her statement to MSPs, Alister Jack said that the UK Government will seek expenses from the Scottish Government for the Section 35 legal battle.

LGBT charities have reacted with dismay at the decision to scrap the legal battle. 

Dr Mhairi Crawford, chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, said:

“We work with many trans young people who already feel like they are stuck treading water, waiting for access to healthcare or essential documentation, whilst politicians idle and transphobic narratives gather strength - thus preventing trans young people from thriving as their true selves.

“It is important to remember that the GRR bill itself was not challenged and it is not dead. It is merely stalled until the political situation changes, which in time, it will.

“We will continue to work with the Scottish Government, and share and amplify the invaluable lived experience, including frustrations, of the young people we support." 

Meanwhile, Stonewall said they were "deeply disappointed" by the decision. 

In a statement the charity said: "This unfortunately means, for now, trans people in Scotland will not be able to have their gender legally recognised through a process that is in line with an ever growing number of progressive nations like Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.

"We were pleased to hear in the Cabinet Secretary’s statement to Parliament today  that reform of the Gender Recognition Act remains Scottish Government policy and that the GRR Bill will not be withdrawn. 

"Stonewall will continue to press all administrations to make progress on LGBTQ+ rights in line with leading international practice."