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Catholic lobby group condemns Scottish government’s plan to make legally changing gender easier

Angela Constance, cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, (back, second from right), says reforms are needed (Getty Images)

The director of a Catholic political lobbying organisation has called the Scottish government’s new proposals on gender recognition a “rush to virtue signal” and “deeply disturbing”.

A consultation on proposed reforms to transgender legislation was launched last week. These include reducing the minimum age of applicants for a gender recognition certificate (that allows a person’s ‘acquired gender’ to be legally recognised) from 18 to 16.

Writing in the Scottish Herald, Anthony Horan, director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, said: “The suggestion that 16- and 17-year-olds should pursue a change of gender at a time of their life fraught with confusion and vulnerability is deeply disturbing,”

The implementation of the proposed ‘self declaration’ system would remove the requirement for applicants to have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years prior to their application and to provide medical evidence. The proposals include offering full legal recognition to non-binary people (those who do not identify as male or female).

The Scottish government is also considering ‘options’ for those under 16 who are seeking to legally change their gender, saying in its consultation paper “children must be treated with dignity and respect, and their views and wishes should be given weight in line with their individual capacity.”

Mr Horton highlighted recent research identifying higher levels of depression and anxiety among young transgender people, calling the proposed reforms “a deplorable crusade”.

Equalities Minister Angela Constance said legal reform was needed “to make sure transgender and non-binary people in Scotland were treated with dignity and respect”.

The Catholic Parliamentary Office is an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland; it monitors and engages with the work of UK and Scottish governments.