A UK women’s rights group has criticised the Scottish government’s decision to allow people to self-identify their sex on the 2022 census regardless of their legal status, saying it will undermine the accuracy of census data.
The Scottish government’s guidance for the census question “what is your sex?” says: “If you are transgender the answer you give can be different from what is on your birth certificate. You do not need a gender recognition certificate.”
Feminist campaign group Fair Play For Women took the government to court in a bid to overturn the guidance, but their case was thrown out by a judge on Feb. 17.
Earlier this month, the group argued at the Court of Session in Edinburgh that sex could be changed only with a gender recognition certificate (GRC). It said the guidance, if allowed to stand, would turn the legal meaning of sex on its head without parliamentary scrutiny or debate.
Roddy Dunlop QC, on behalf of the campaign group, argued the sex question must “be answered truthfully” and “the sex on the certificate provides the true answer to the sex on the census.”
But in his 32-page ruling, Lord Sandison said an answer provided in “good faith and on reasonable grounds” would not be a false answer.
He said there is “no general rule or principle of law that a question as to a person’s sex may only properly be answered by reference to the sex stated on that person’s birth certificate or GRC.”
Fair Play For Women said it was “disappointed by the judgment and will be requesting an urgent appeal.”
The group said on Twitter: “The guidance proposes for the sex question will jeopardise the collection of accurate data on sex in the Scottish census and erodes the harmonisation of data collected via censuses across the UK.”
The Scottish National Party (SNP) administration has been seeking to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to “self-declare” their own gender without a doctors’ approval.
A heated debate has formed mainly on social media around the reforms, with some groups arguing it could give rise to easier access for predators to women-only spaces and pose a risk to women’s rights and safety.
The plan has met with strong grassroots opposition from an “army of women” from diverse social and political backgrounds, according to a new study published this week.
Meanwhile, a new poll revealed that 67 percent of Scots do not follow the transgender debate closely.
While the study by Savanta ComRes for the BBC found 57 percent of 2,038 respondents support the idea of making it easier for transgender people to acquire a gender recognition certificate, it also found respondents are less accepting of specific proposals.
Just 40 percent support allowing transgender people to self-identify as a gender different to that of their birth without the need for a medical diagnosis, while 38 percent are opposed to the idea
Only 37 percent support the reduction of time applicants must prove they have lived in their self-identified gender to six months from two years, while 44 percent oppose it.
A majority of people (53 percent) also oppose the possibility of reducing the age a person can apply from 18 to 16, while 31 percent support that proposal.
PA Media contributed to this report.