Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Controversial Bill that would allow biological males to stand as women in Senedd elections is postponed

29 Nov 2023 5 minute read
Hannah Blythyn. National Assembly for Wales

Martin Shipton

The Welsh Government has unexpectedly postponed publication of a controversial Bill that would allow biological men to identify as women for the purpose of standing as candidates for the Senedd.

The move has led to speculation that serious legal difficulties have become apparent during the drafting of the Bill.

Under the Senedd reform package agreed between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru in their Co-Operation 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 was introduced in September.

Gender balanced

Omitted from the Bill was another major commitment aimed at creating a gender-balanced Senedd via the voting system. At the time the first Bill was published, a commitment was made to introduce a second Bill covering gender balance by the end of 2023. Sources suggested that this element of the reform package had been separated from the main Bill because of concerns that aspects of it might be seen as beyond the Senedd’s powers.

In particular, the notion that transgender people who were biological males could identify as females without any kind of medical certificate was seen as potentially problematic.

An early draft of the 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.”

Briefing

Hannah Blythyn, the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, was due to announce details of the updated version of the Bill in the Senedd on Tuesday December 5. 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.”

The Welsh Government was unable to give any details about when the Bill might now be published.

Cathy Larkman from the Women’s Rights Network Wales, which has campaigned against gender self-identification, said: “The Gender Quotas Bill has clearly now been renamed The Senedd Cymru (Electoral Candidates Lists) Bill and was to be published on December 5. “For a Bill that claims to increase the representation of women in political life, what it would actually do is introduce self-ID by the back door and allow the Welsh Government to redefine ‘women’ to include any man who says he is one. This was always an outrageous prospect with grievous consequences for the women of Wales and our future rights for single-sex spaces and services in Wales.

“The Welsh Government surely does not have the authority to interfere in reserved matters and equalities legislation is clearly a reserved matter. A similar situation was played out disastrously in Scotland, but our First Minister and his team appear to either misunderstand their legislative powers or are wilfully ignoring the fact that equalities legislation is a reserved matter and hoping no one notices.

“We trust that the fact that the Bill has suddenly been stalled, will mean that they have had a moment of clarity about the legal consequences of persisting with this ill-advised and tone-deaf, ideological mission. Any attempt to push this through will be challenged in the courts.

“It is high time that the Welsh Government started to listen to women and our valid concerns. Perhaps they would then not make such serious errors of judgment.”

Pride Cymru

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.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
20 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ali Morris
Ali Morris
2 months ago

I hope thus is the first step in this ridiculous Bill being scrapped altogether. It was nothing short of a farce. How can allowing men to identify as women ever increase the number of women participating in the Senedd. Welsh Government’s way of bringing self ID in by the back door. Women in Wales will not take this lying down and allow Mark Drakeford and his minions to erase women in favour of men. Well done to you and everyone who has campaigned and publicised this.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago
Reply to  Ali Morris

You realise scrapping this bill means scrapping the commitment to a gender balanced Senedd?
So you would rather fewer natal women get elected for fear that one transgender women gets elected ( and so far there’s no transgender women in the Senedd or so far as I am aware, planned to stand for the Senedd, and I HAVE looked)
Are we at risk of sacrificing our hard gained rights because men have given us a boogeyman to scare (some of) us into line?

Last edited 2 months ago by Sarah Good
Richard E
Richard E
2 months ago

This has got to stop ! The public of all political views just want our Senedd to focus on delivery of good education, health , roads and transport plus employment opportunities.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago
Reply to  Richard E

Yes and … all law abiding citizens have a right to stand for Y Senedd. ALL of them. Without favour. Without prejudice. We are a democracy or we are not.

Another Richard
Another Richard
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

A democracy that operates a quota system is less democratic than a democracy that does not, because quotas distort the vote. Incidentally if trans women – who are biologically male – are 0.1% of the population of Wales, we can expect a trans MS approximately every 83 years, assuming the average MS serves two terms in a 96-seat Senedd.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago

I disagree with your statement about quota systems being undemocratic, but respect your right to have it.
As you say, statistically is one transgender MS every 86 years (alternating between trans man and trans woman) REALLY going to erase my gender from the planet? (and subsequently all humans because WE make the humans)
I will add that we know transgender women are “biologically male”. They know that too. But I fear it is often (not saying in this case) used less for accuracy than it is a dog-whistle to rouse the angry but ill informed

Last edited 2 months ago by Sarah Good
Another Richard
Another Richard
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

To clarify, I said that quotas were “less democratic” rather than undemocratic. Imagine that there was a quota system based on age – that the composition of the Senedd had to mirror the age structure of the general population. We would then have far more very young and very old MSs squeezing out the middle-aged, the pool from which candidates are currently drawn. Would that be more democratic? Would it be likely to lead to better government? Heaven knows the Senedd has its shortcomings, but it would be possible for it to be worse, and insisting on quotas would be… Read more »

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago

I accept you did say less democratic not undemocratic.
I still disagree. To my mind quotas are a single-use turbo-boost to redress past wrongs. Use once and throw away. Not something that is permanently in place.
But agree to disagree perhaps on the one issue

Cedwyn Aled
Cedwyn Aled
2 months ago

It perfectly illustrates the left wing elite Cardiff Bay bubble and the insularity of those inside it and how far they are detached from the rest of us.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago
Reply to  Cedwyn Aled

Oh no! Not “the left wing elite in the Cardiff Bay bubble”?!

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

Gender Quotas are bad enough, why do they want to make it even more controversial than it already is? Expanding the Senedd and abolishing first past the post has my full support. But gender quotas – no thanks. We should elect our candidates on merit and the ability to do the job, regardless of whether or not they are male, female or trans etc.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Broadly, I agree and have upvoted . But quotas are a means to right past wrongs where women were excluded. Not saying they are right or wrong. They have their place.And I don’t care if my representative is male female trans or whatever. So long as none are excluded from standing.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

Thank you for your reasonable response. I believe where voters might do care is where the candidates live? The reason why I’m addressing this is because we are going to have 16 larger constituencies where each of the 32 proposed Westminster constituencies are paired up. This probably means for example a single constituency for Ynys Mon and Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, and one for the whole of Powys. So what happens if all of the candidates happen to come from one area? That leaves the other side without a representative, simply because they weren’t top of the list or because… Read more »

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago

Oh here we go. This storm in a teacup again. And the comments turns into JK Rowling’s Twitter feed. Transgender people exist. They should not be eradicated from public life just because some right wing people and people who read the Daily Mail don’t like them. In sport, there are serious issues to be discussed about trans inclusion, but in politics really, so what? Trans women on women only selection lists really don’t bother me. In the whole UK there’s what? NO transgender women at all. I mean there’s Jamie Wallace in Bridgend but he’s never actually transitioned and has… Read more »

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago

Actually, I have an observation to make. I have noticed there have been more really good, important articles on women’s issues of late. Often written by Martin Shipton who wrote this piece. These significant issues usually get one (often mine) or two comments. But anything to do with transgender women (just the women, not transgender men) get 50-60 comments bashing trans women whilst claiming to stand for women. I’m a woman. They certainly don’t stand for me. I’m an intersectional feminist on ALL issues, not just this one, lazy, internet and Tory media based campaign. To my observation. If this… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Sarah Good
oatmaster
oatmaster
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

Yep, none of these people spared a thought for the issue five years ago but they don’t stop to think, “why do I care so much about it now and who wants me to care?”.

I also suspect quite a lot of astroturfing goes on. Maybe not so much on here but certainly in the comments sections of Wales Online and other sites in the same group.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago
Reply to  oatmaster

Exactly this. And you notice the downvoting on my comments? The way it works on this site is, according to the NC CEO, that if you get enough downvotes, you get blocked from commenting. At this rate I will be automatically blocked from the site before day’s end. So Ironically all the men and GC “feminists” who wail about “erasing real women” are in fact erasing a real woman. They have NEVER cared about women and women’s issues. They just like to be spiteful to a minority they have never met, have never caused them trouble and they don’t understand.… Read more »

Another Richard
Another Richard
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

I have upvoted you because it is important that we have these discussions. I have noticed threads to which I contributed from time to time vanishing for no obvious reason. I strongly disagree with the policy of blocking people who make unpopular statements and I hope mature contributors to this site would agree with me on that at least.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago

It seems I may need to revise my opinions given the current state of this comments section. The more antagonistic and insulting comments appear to have been taken down and the voting did not go the way I thought it might.
Perhaps people are kinder than I thought and this is an indication that this particular culture war right wing wedge issue has been seen for what it really is 🙂. Bless you Nation Cymru readers

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.