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Bill to create gender-balanced Senedd to be published next week

08 Mar 2024 5 minute read
The chamber – Senedd Cymru Welsh Parliament

Martin Shipton

The Welsh Government will next week publish a Bill aimed at creating a gender-balanced Senedd amid speculation that it will drop a commitment to allow transgender women to identify as women without a medical certificate.

In November 2023 the publication of such a Bill was unexpectedly postponed because, it is understood, Presiding Officer Elin Jones was advised that it could be beyond the Senedd’s powers under the devolution settlement to pass it.

Under the Senedd reform package agreed between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru in their Cooperation Agreement, the number of Senedd Members will increase from 60 to 96, the voting system will change and a number of other measures will be introduced, including reverting to a four-year term of office. A piece of legislation covering these reforms called the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill has just passed its second stage.

Omitted from the Bill was another major commitment aimed at creating a gender-balanced Senedd via the voting system.

Seperated

Sources have suggested that this element of the reform package was separated from the main Bill because of concerns that aspects of it might be seen as beyond the Senedd’s powers. One element seen as potentially problematic was the proposal that transgender women could identify as females without any kind of medical certificate.

An early draft of the second Bill, passed to Nation.Cymru, included a section which said: “For the purposes of this section … ‘woman’ includes a transgender woman. ‘Transgender woman’ means a person (T) who is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process or part of a process for the purpose of reassigning T’s sex to female by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.

“An order under Section 13 [of the Draft Bill] must make provision requiring a person (P) as part of the process by which P is nominated as a candidate to declare either that P is a woman or that P is not.

“A constituency returning officer may not challenge or make any enquiry in relation to a statement made by a candidate in accordance with an order under Section 13 that the candidate is a woman.”

Hannah Blythyn, the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, was due to announce details of an updated version of the Bill in the Senedd in December 2023. Journalists were due to receive a technical briefing about what is known as the Senedd Cymru (Electoral Candidate Lists) Bill on the morning of November 30. But the briefing was postponed on November 29, with a brief statement that said: “We’re still working on the Senedd Cymru (Electoral Candidate Lists) Bill, but we won’t be publishing it on December 4 as anticipated.”

This week Nation.Cymru received a tip-off that this second Bill would now be published in the week beginning March 11, and that has been confirmed by the Welsh Government. When we asked whether the Bill included allowing transgender women to identify as women without a medical certificate, a government spokesman would not comment.

Scrutinising

Cathy Larkman from the gender critical Women’s Rights Network in Wales said: “We will be scrutinising the exact details of this proposed legislation very closely. Should there be any attempt to interpret the definition of ‘women’ to include self-identifying men, then we stand ready to challenge this legally.

“The Welsh Government’s previous attempts to introduce this Bill had to go back to the drawing board after it was made clear that they did not have the competence to meddle with equalities legislation and should not be attempting to redefine ‘woman’ to include men. Similar attempts in Scotland have failed spectacularly but our Welsh Government has failed to learn from that.

“It is simply appalling that a Bill which ostensibly sought to improve the representation of women in political life included men, and that they were trying to introduce self-identification into legislation in Wales by the back door.

“Self-ID is not only not the law in the UK, but has real life consequences for the rights of women to single-sex spaces and services where these really matter. We await the details of their latest attempt with interest.”

Glass ceiling

At the time it was announced that there would be a separate Bill covering gender balance at the Senedd, Dr Lisa Cordery-Bruce, a trustee of Pride Cymru, said: “Trans women are women. Trans women have a right to stand for election as their authentic selves. There has never been an openly transgender person elected to our national parliament and it is a glass ceiling that needs smashing.”

A spokesperson for the LGBT campaign group Stonewall Cymru said at the time: “We fully support any measure to empower all women, including trans women, to take part in politics and seek election in the Senedd.

“Trans women make up 0.1% of the population in Wales. However, it is important that legislation such as this is inclusive of trans people and of other minority groups to ensure that our communities are all reflected within the Senedd.”


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Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 month ago

Please can we just focus on creating a meritocracy. I don’t care what gender someone is as long as they have the prerequisite knowledge and skills for the MS role.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

Merit ? That sort of thinking will get you blacklisted by the Bay’s thought police.

Rob jones
Rob jones
1 month ago

Welsh labour turning Wales into a laughing stock

Glen
Glen
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob jones

The loony left have taken over the asylum.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Heres a wild innovative idea: candidates are selected to stand based on the ability to do the job and represent their constituents, irrespective of the gender or gender identity. I mean it works in almost every other democracy. Its bad enough that we closed lists being imposed on us instead of STV.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

You too will attract the attention of the Bay’s thought police if you persist with making comments like that.

Jones
Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

I take issue with the notion that it works in almost every democracy, if only because I can’t think of a single democracy which votes people on objective merit

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

There’s something called “positive discrimination” where you choose someone less qualified because of a quota system be it gender, ethnicity, sexuality and so on. Any discrimination is bad. I want the best person for the job. And if this means more men than women, candidates who are predominantly from ethic minority communities, whatever, don’t care, so long as they are the best person for the job, want to make a positive change to our lives , who genuinely have our nation’s interests at heart not their own as so many Wales MPs who claim they came into politics to make… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
Mai
Mai
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Is it not a form of prejudice and marginalisation to choose someone less experienced/able/qualified just because they aren’t white, male, middle aged and 100% ethnically Welsh? Whole thing stinks. And most of us these days wouldn’t give two hoots if its a female koala bear identifying as a male shark as long as they have the skills and intellect to focus on REAL ISSIES like getting the NHS waiting lists down and GP’s into rural areas and cancers checked before they spread. Ohh and don’t always go all green crazy monsters throwing our money at farmers to ditch their land… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago
Reply to  Mai

If you read my post properly never said I only favoured 100% white Welsh people. Where the hell did you get that idea from? Certainly not from my post. I don’t like the saying positive discrimination. It’s like using positive racism. Think about it. Would you prefer a doctor to operate on you who’s not qualified? I wouldn’t. And where in my post did I mention colour? You did. I, you, can equally be a minority and white. I stated that a quoter system where those less qualified, and not because of colour by the way, are favoured over others… Read more »

Mai
Mai
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

My post wasn’t really dissecting yours – as your questions suggested – just adding to the mix of views.

People make naturally different choices – my Indian mates far favour cricket over rugby as you suggest. Females are drawn to different areas by choice too. Much of this, as is usual in certain circles these days, is about virtue signalling for ones own peer group & feelgood where little is actually needed…

Brenda
Brenda
1 month ago

Humans cannot change their biological sex, not even with a piece of paper or surgery. As a woman I strongly object to anyone calling these trans identified men, women, with or without a certificate. We woman are adult human females of our species. End of.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

There should be a higher number of women in the senedd. Should be across the board in all businesses and politics but start somewhere. So many obstacles that as men we don’t look at it enough and are probably responsible for. But are first to shout about how unfair it is when it is suggested.

Mai
Mai
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

error – delete

Last edited 1 month ago by Mai
Neilyn
Neilyn
1 month ago

I’m deeply concerned about this issue. What about bald people? Blind people? Deaf people? Less able bodied people? Taller people? Shorter people? Thinner people? Fatter people?

Well I suppose we have to start somewhere……..

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Neilyn

lol, don’t use their own flawed logic on them. It’ll scramble their brainzzzz!

Mai
Mai
1 month ago

Do people really think there is a big gender prejudice against women in politics these days – 2024? There isnt any in my industry , and why should there be in the political industry if they are THIS aware of the issue? Are they not practicing what they preach? I really think its about women’s interest in such things and desire to apply for such roles. Just choose the best person not the preferred tick box sex. I bought my daughter up knowing she could do anything she set her mind to. 2024 as I say – lets not be… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Mai
Glen
Glen
1 month ago

White, hetero-sexual men are now the only demographic that it’s acceptable to discriminate against.

Ali Morris
Ali Morris
1 month ago

Some of the sheer idiotic comments (mainly by men) shows why Wales is in the mess it’s in. If you don’t understand why women don’t enter politics stop throwing ridiculous reasons into the pot without understanding the issue. It is a FACT (decades of global research) that women are discriminated against on many if not most arwas of life. I don’t care either what sex (not gender) politicians are, but the point is that women simply don’t have the same opportunities as men to enter political life. But I DO care when men cosplaying as women want to take the… Read more »

Adrian
Adrian
1 month ago

Does anybody apart from Labour think there is an issue regarding gender prejudice?? Like everybody else I want the best person for the job to be in the role, not just to meet a quota. Incidentally… can anybody think of a party that hasnt had an official female leader or a political institution in the UK & Ireland that hasnt had a female First Minister or Prime minister?? The evil Tories?? Not them… they have had three female Prime ministers with the first in the 70s, plus a female leader in the Scottish Parliament… Lib dems?? Cant be them, they… Read more »

Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago

The cost of living, farming bill, TATA steel, environment Bill, 20mph, independence, illegal migration, NHS strikes and pay, free school meals out of term, new nutter to lead the labour party, of all the topics up for debate what do our rulers talk about. spend months discussing then trying to make a law to justify their time spent. Really

Riki
Riki
1 month ago

I’d rather it was actually on merit, instead of a quota.

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