Scotland Pride via Flickr

Anti-trans campaign group For Women Scotland (FWS) bid to block an inclusive bill has been rejected by Scottish courts.

FWS challenged the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, which aims to improve the representation of women on the boards of Scottish public authorities.

The campaign challenged the act on the grounds the new legislation would be “outside the legislative competency of the Scottish Parliament.”

The 2018 trans-inclusive act goes into detail to define the meaning of a “woman” as “a person who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment… and only if, the person is living as a woman and is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of becoming female.”

FWS is a self-described “grassroots women’s rights organisation”, however they actively petitioned against the inclusion of trans identity in the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 which was passed over two years ago. 

On the FWS’ crowdfunding page, the campaign group encouraged supporters to donate to help fund a judicial review to have the act scrapped. 

The CrowdJustice page argued the act has been amended so it now “includes some men” which they have labelled as “fundamentally flawed”. 

In their fundraising campaign and formal challenging of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, FWS claimed the “dangerous precedent” could not be approved by the Scottish government and violated the Equality Act 2010, which is by the UK government. 

The anti-trans campaign group also argued against the redefinition of the terms “woman” and how that was being applied. 

FWS claimed the application of “woman” was going against the Equality Act 2010 and anti-discrimination laws and legislation. Statistically, trans women make up an estimated less than one per cent of the Scottish population.  

A judicial review of the cast took place on Tuesday (March 23) which ruled in favour of the Scottish government and in support of transgender inclusion. 

Scottish Supreme Courts judge Lady Wise rejected FWS’ case ruling that the Scottish government acted lawfully to increase representation on Scottish public boards, and did not breach the Equality Act 2010.

Scottish Trans manager Vic Valentine commented on the successful ruling in a statement. 

“We are delighted that Lady Wise has held that the Scottish Government were able to include trans women in this legislation aimed at increasing women’s representation on Scottish Public Boards. 

“This is an important decision: clearly stating that this equal opportunities measure for women that explicitly includes trans women in line with how they live their lives did not breach the law.

“We know that trans women continue to have almost no visibility in public life: whether that is in boardrooms, Council Chambers or Parliaments. 

“We hope that any trans woman who has felt unsure about applying for a position on a Scottish Public board due to this Judicial Review will be reassured by this decision.

“We believe women should have their voices heard and be represented on Public Boards, and trans women should not be singled out to be excluded. 

“We are pleased that this outcome means that all women, including transgender women, will continue to have that representation guaranteed.”

The director of JustRight Scotland, Jen Ang, also provided a statement on Lady Wise’s judicial review ruling. 

“We are pleased to have been able to support Scottish Trans to intervene in this case and that the written intervention was regarded as having provided helpful evidence to the court,” Ang said in a statement.  

“The Scottish Just Law Centre was founded in order to ensure that third sector organisations like Scottish Trans have a fair opportunity to participate in legal processes where the outcome of a court decision directly affects them and those they support. 

“We hope this is the first of many opportunities we have to support individuals and organisations to engage in important cases raising issues of discrimination and inequality.”

You can read the full opinion of judge Lady Wise here.