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xshirley anne somerville

MSP welcomes Scottish Government’s response to Equality Act 2010 fears

Two MSPs quizzed the Scottish Government on its response to concerns surrounding single sex exemptions under the Equality Act 2010 last week.

Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP for South Scotland, asked for the government’s response to concerns that the Equality Act could be undermined by allowing male patients who identify as female, including those who have not had gender reassignment surgery, to be placed in wards that match their gender identity.

Shirley-Anne Somerville SNP MSP for Dunfermline and cabinet secretary for Social Security and Older People, responded: “The Scottish Government expects everyone to be treated with consideration, dignity and respect when accessing and using national health service services.

“NHS staff will make every effort to ensure that the privacy and dignity of all patients are maintained in Scottish hospitals.

“The Scottish Government supports the appropriate use of the single-sex exemptions by service providers where it is a proportionate means for achieving a legitimate aim.”

Policy review

While she welcomed the response, Ms McAlpine cited NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s gender reassignment policy review, which states ‘a female patient who is distressed at the presence of a male-bodied trans-identified person in the next bed should be told that that person is female and that her complaint is similar to a white women complaining about a black patient being in the next bed.’

Ms Somerville was then asked by Johann Lamont MSP what role Scottish ministers had regarding the policy.

Ms Somerville said the government ‘supports the single-sex exemptions in the Equality Act 2010’ adding that service providers—including health boards— should take account of the act and the single-sex exemption it contains.

The news comes in light of the ongoing Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill consultation, which closes on Tuesday March 17.


The debate looks at changing the length of time a person must live in their preferred gender before it becomes legally recognised from two years to three months.

It also discusses lowering the age in which someone can legally change his or her gender from 18 to 16 years old.

The SCO previously reported that MSPs Elaine Smith and John Mason warned against the changes, while the Church warned the alterations would be a ‘catastrophe’ if Scotland were to ‘sleepwalk’ into changing the law.

The Church recently urged Catholics to submit their views on the government proposals. Please visit search ‘gender recognition reform Scotland bill’.

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