A controversial debate in the Scottish parliament about trans rights ended with one feminist protestor pulling up her skirt to reveal ‘pubic hair’.
The Scottish parliament approved the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill by a vote of 86 to 39.
Anyone living in Scotland will be able to apply for a gender reform certificate after three months of living in their self-selected gender — or six months if they are 16 or 17. They would have had to wait two years previously.
Women’s groups in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK have been outraged, and the bill has been met with strong opposition from UK government ministers.
Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, wrote to Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon before the vote, saying that she was “concerned” that the changes being proposed would create a “divergence” of approach on a “complex and important issue”.
“Individuals contemplating the very serious step of changing their legal sex need clarity on the process that they must undertake,” Ms Badenoch wrote, “and I am concerned about the impact [of] having divergent regimes in the different parts of the UK,” she said.
She added that it could lead to some complex legal problems, because it was “not possible” for the legislation to be “fully contained” within Scotland and English people could travel to Scotland and demand the same rights.
But alongside the formal political debate there was a good deal of very lively protest at Holyrood.
Women’s groups say the legislation will make it easier for unscrupulous men to gain access to women-only spaces – including public loos, changing rooms and prisons.
As the bill was debated “disruptive” spectators were escorted from the chamber by police, and security guards surrounded one woman shouting “Lies” and “Shame” and insisting that the bill was a threat to women.
Another protestor shouted: “None of you can define gender identity. I’m a duck trapped in a woman’s body. I’m a duck. Quack, quack, quack.”
But the showstopper was a protester who pulled up her skirt to display a good-sized black merkin, shouting “get it right up youse!”
She had shouted that women were being raped in prisons “right now” by physically male offenders who had told the authorities that they identified as women, and said “this parliament will not respect the rights of women,” before adding “and if you will not be decent, then I will be indecent” and revealing the merkin.
As she accused the legislators of being “terrible, terrible people,” security personnel stepped in to usher her out of the chamber. Watch the video here.