Alex Salmond has claimed people are “laughing” at Nicola Sturgeon, accusing the First Minister of “stumbling incoherence” on trans rights. Mr Salmond told Ms Sturgeon to “get off this issue”, warning that her position would become “untenable” if she were to carry on pressing ahead with it. The issue was thrown into the spotlight when the Government used its veto to block Ms Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
The legislation, passed by Holyrood in December 2022, would have removed the requirement for trans people to have a medical diagnosis before obtaining a certificate confirming their preferred gender.
But Mr Salmond – the former leader of the SNP – told Times Radio that Scottish support is “divided” over the issue, warning that if she continues to fight the battle over the gender reforms “then it’ll be a hill to die on and it’s not the hill to die on”.
When asked if Ms Sturgeon’s position is still tenable, he said: “At this stage, yes. But if you continue to conduct the argument about Scottish self-determination, Scottish independence, having this issue [gender self-ID] as the touch point and the conflict between Westminster then it would be untenable.
“You must get off this issue and onto issues where the Scottish parliament has vast and overwhelming support like the fuel poverty in our land of energy plenty, like the European issue, and like Scotland’s essential right to self-determination.
“These are the issues where you should be battling with Westminster, where Scotland, by majority, is right behind you.
“Not an issue where Scottish support is a) divided and b) that division of opinion is against you rather than for you.”
Westminster’s decision to block the bill from going for royal assent is the first time the veto has been used.
The row escalated further after trans woman Isla Bryson was sentenced for two rapes that were committed prior to her gender change.
The former SNP leader described the row as “self-indulgent nonsense”.
Scottish Trans has said the current requirements for applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate are overly laborious, saying: “The time, evidence, and money required, as well as the emotional toll of potentially having an application rejected, mean that many trans people do not apply – even those who have otherwise ‘completed’ every other aspect of their transition.”
It adds: “This is very frustrating for many trans men and women who find that this slow, bureaucratic process is preventing them from otherwise just getting on with their lives.
“Many trans people know they are trans a long time before they socially, medically, and legally transition, and do not make the choice to do so lightly.
“Requiring at least two years of evidence is then an excessively long and arbitrary amount of time to ensure that someone is certain they want to change their legal sex, especially as they also have to make a statutory declaration as part of the process.”
But critics say the law undermines sexual equality and poses a risk to women’s safety.