Sir Keir Starmer argues that the SNP are using the Gender Recognition Bill to distract from pressing issues in Scotland, and accuses the Tories of using it as a tool to divide people and play politics.

K eir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, suggested this morning on LBC that both the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Conservative Party were exploiting the Scottish Gender Recognition Bill for political advantage.

The bill seeks to make it easier for individuals to change their gender on legal documents, and has been the subject of much debate in recent months.

Starmer argued that the SNP were using the bill to distract from the “real issues” facing Scotland, such as education and the economy. He also accused the Tories of “cynically” using the bill to “divide people” and “play politics”.

“On this whole issue of trans rights, I think the government is looking to divide people rather than bring people together.”

He went on to suggest that the bill should be debated in a “respectful and informed” way, rather than being used as a political tool. He, however, refused to say whether his party would support the government if it decided to block the bill.

On the live phone-in on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, the Labour leader staunchly defended his position that 16 is too young to change one’s gender legally. He argued that, due to the gravity of the decision, it is necessary to ensure that those making such a decision are of an age where they can fully understand the implications of their choice.

“I’m afraid I do think that 16 is too young for that process... I would go for 18, the age of adulthood in most cases. I’m also worried about the impact on equality laws; that’s why various amendments were put down to the legislation in Scotland.”

Starmer also spoke about the importance of preserving sex-based rights for women. He said:

“I approach it on the basis that for 99.9-something per cent of women, it is all about biology, sex-based rights matter, and we must preserve all those wins that we’ve had for women over many years, and including safe spaces for women.”

This statement comes in light of recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, which show that only 0.5% of people do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Starmer is adamant that the rights of the majority of women should not be compromised in order to accommodate a small minority.

PMP Magazine


  • First census estimates on gender identity and sexual orientation | ONS
  • Call Keir, with Nick Ferrari | LBC

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    Text: This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 16 January 2023.
    Cover: LBC Screenshot. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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