The Scottish government has lost a legal battle over a gender representation law that “expanded the definition of women” to include transgender people. Women’s rights activists had argued that the legislation violated “protected characteristics” related to sex in the UK’s 2010 Equality Act.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled on Friday that the Scottish National Party (SNP) government had overstepped its authority when drafting the Gender Representation on Public Boards Scotland Act in 2018, which implemented 50% quotas for women on public sector boards.
Under the law, an individual “living as a woman” who plans to undergo (or has undergone) a “process for the purpose of becoming female” should be considered on par with biological women when filling these quotas. It invoked the “protected characteristic” of gender reassignment.
But the court stated that by “incorporating those transsexuals living as women into the definition of woman,” the legislation “conflates and confuses” two different protected characteristics. The three judges hearing the case said the ruling was not about the “rights and wrongs” of the trans rights debate, but whether the legislation fell under Holyrood’s devolved powers.
Read more: Court rules ‘women’ can’t be redefined