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Fresh challenge for Welsh Government’s gender-balanced Senedd plan

12 Nov 2023 4 minute read
The Siambr. Picture by National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

Martin Shipton

The introduction of a Bill to the Scottish Parliament that will end the rights of transgender women to identify as female when applying for public appointments should prompt the Welsh Government to ditch a similar plan relating to membership of the Senedd, according to a campaign group.

The Women’s Rights Network says that by persisting with legislation that would allow transgender women to take seats earmarked for women in a gender-balanced Senedd, the Welsh Government is at risk of squandering large amounts of public money.

The Scottish Government’s legal bid to allow transgender women to self-identify as female was vetoed by the UK Government and Parliament on the grounds that competency in this policy area is reserved to Westminster. This followed an earlier judgement of the Court of Session in Scotland.

The short Bill being introduced to the Scottish Parliament will remove the ability of transgender women to self-identify as female under the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018.

Wholly proportional

Plans to increase the number of Senedd Members from 60 to 96 and change the electoral system to one that is wholly proportional have already been published in a Draft Bill by the Welsh Government.

But the Bill left out another reform to which both Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru are committed: creating a gender-balanced Senedd by having quotas for male and female candidates.

Instead, the Welsh Government has said that a second Draft Bill covering this aspect will be published before the end of 2023.

Welsh Government sources have told us that drafting the gender balance Bill has posed legal challenges. One of the areas of difficulty relates to the ability of transgender women to self-identify as female when standing as Senedd election candidates. As yet, details of the final draft of the relevant clauses have not been revealed.

‘Astonishing’

Responding to the latest development in Scotland, Cathy Larkman of Wales Women’s Rights Network said: “It’s quite astonishing that the Welsh Government are effectively shutting their eyes and putting their fingers in their ears. They are ignoring how attempts to expand the definition of women in Scotland to include men who wish to self-identify as women have played out legally.

“This wilful disregard will come as no surprise to the women’s groups who have tried time and again, to bring our concerns about women’s sex-based rights to the attention of Welsh Government ministers, but have been roundly ignored. A Government that does not want to hear concerns of the public if they dissent from their own, is not a healthy and accountable one. By expanding the definition of ‘woman’ in legislation for which they did not have the powers, the Scottish Government had sought to include males who identify as women onto public boards, in positions meant to improve opportunities for, and representation for actual women.

“This is all very similar to Welsh Government’s intentions in their Gender Quotas Bill, where they are also attempting to introduce a system of self-ID, at a cost to women and our representation in political life. The Court of Session in Scotland in early 2022 was very clear – the definition of ‘woman’ was outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament in that it related to reserved matters.

“The situation will be the same in Wales, yet they appear determined to ignore that and potentially squander more public money in the courts defending the indefensible. We hope for the sake of Welsh women and the Welsh public generally, that they start listening to their legal advice and step back from this ideologically driven and deeply misogynistic path.”

Asked to respond to the latest piece of legislation in the Scottish Parliament, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have nothing further to add to our previous line. We are working to introduce a bill to make our parliament more representative of the people it serves, which includes provisions to introduce candidate quotas for people seeking election to the Senedd.

“Our proposed model for quotas is designed to maximise the chances of achieving a Senedd comprised of at least 50% women. Work is ongoing on the Bill.”


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Richard E
Richard E
6 months ago

On the 12 Bus 🚌 from Llandudno to Rhyl yesterday I was able to hear a wide range of openly given views on a range of subjects – important to ordinary folk ion coastal north. Views for an against the mph plus flooding schemes lBeing undertaken here as well as people’s health “ experiences’ under the appalling Betsi Health Trust. In addition positive comments on the choice of schools and of course financial pressures re heating and food costs etc Not one person in this age mixed aged 60/40 female majority set of passengers had gender quotas in mind .… Read more »

Glen
Glen
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard E

It’s all they talk about in the queue at the foodbanks.

Richard E
Richard E
6 months ago
Reply to  Glen

I know mate – a hot topic at our new benefits advice agency in Abergele

Rhian Davies
Rhian Davies
6 months ago

I agree with a gender-balanced government, as it’s become a world where mostly men have used Science to almost destroy our chances of life on earth, not improve our chances of survival as humans. Therefore I think we should let women share power equally and see if this improves things? Well it can’t get much worse can it, so let’s see if gender-equality gives us better life-quality? I’m curious as to why there’s only talk of protecting Trans-women and not Trans-men? It’s curious that Trans-women are getting so much attention at the very same time that gender-equality in politics is… Read more »

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
6 months ago
Reply to  Rhian Davies

It’s because the underlying issue is the representation of women in the Senedd, therefore the follow-on question is should this include trans women too. Of course, this begs a more fundamental question. As for your other statements about men, and what they’ve accomplished or perpetrated, a less revisionist view of history may be valuable in assessing our current situation and where we go from here I will say that if you think having 50% women in government will solve our issues, you are deluded. One only has to mention Margaret Thatcher, Liz Truss and Suella Braverman to prove that gender… Read more »

Rhian Hewitt-Davies
Rhian Hewitt-Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Hi, well there shall be a lot more women in politics soon, so we shall see if they make a difference.

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
6 months ago

Maybe, but rather through merit than by meeting some quota. How disrespectful and condescending to women! How disenfranchising to men!

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Rhian Davies

Regarding your last paragraph: trans men are seen in the media as cute small tomboyish vulnerable confused girls and not threatening to men. Trans women (at least the older ones who never had the opportunity to transition) are visible and are paintable by the media as large, threatening and weird and are therefore far easier to attack. But the reason for attacking them is to cover for a wider attack on the rights of our citizens. As can be seen in the USA, as a result of the popular (with republicans) attacks on trans people, the rights of all LGBT+,… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Sarah Good
Rob
Rob
6 months ago

In my view the UK government should not be able to intervene in how the Welsh or Scottish Parliament run their own affairs. However I feel that the Welsh Government are deliberately stirring up tensions here and giving ammunition to the right wing. If so then they are almost as bad as Suella Braverman. Gender Quotas are an affront to democracy and is a sexist policy itself, insulting both men and women. We elect our candidates on ability to do the job and who is best to represent us. The fact that they are male, female, gay, straight, trans, black,… Read more »

Brenda
Brenda
6 months ago

Well done Nation Cymru for your excellent coverage of this issue. The word woman and the category for women, is not up for redefinition. It belongs to biological women – males can never be women, no matter how they feel. Its time the Welsh Government stopped trying to gaslight women – Transwomen are NOT women.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Brenda

Yes they are. Of a sort. But look at the bickering above. A fear ridden article about transwomen becoming Senedd Members, has reopened the battle of the sexes between misogynistic men and trans phobic women in the comments about the validity of female only shortlists AT ALL. And so far, no transgender women at all have announced a desire to stand as Senedd members (on shortlists or otherwise).
Once again, this non-issue is a stalking horse to remove the rights of women

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
6 months ago

Yawn….evidently Martin Shipton’s last transphobic, one sided hatchet piece (which nation cymru published from him just a fortnight ago) didn’t have the desired effect so – being an associate editor of Nation Cymru – he (naturally) gets to have another bite at the cherry with this transphobic, one sided hatchet piece 😡. Er is it too much to ask that the next time Nation Cymru publishes something on this matter (which will probably be very soon 😉) it actually includes the views of a representative of the the trans community in Wales?

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
6 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Playing the “transphobic” card, ostensibly done to shout down opposition to progressive ideology can only be done so many times before it loses its potency. How about engaging with the arguments (for or against), rather than simply crying wolf? It is evident from this article that most people are not persuaded that transwomen are women, so the trans ‘community’ (whatever that is) clearly has its work cut out.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Where in this article did Shipton try to persuade commenters that transwomen were women?
Nation Cymru articles NEVER post information from trans inclusive sources, from the psychiatric and medical professions, from the WHO and from the UN.
The intention is clearly to oppress and dehumanise transgender people.
And yet when the Daily Telegraph says something spiteful about Welsh people, Nation Cymru goes straight into outrage mode. It doesn’t like punching down unless it is doing the punching

Susanne
Susanne
6 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Oh come on now Dude. You, a dude, are opining on an issue where women are the losers. Now why might that be? I for one draw my own conclusions. And stay out of our toilets.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Susanne

In what way are women the losers? In my entire life I have been in a toilet with maybe four transgenders that I know of. I was given grief only once. By a spiteful old lady who took issue with the neckline of my top. I honestly think the whole thing is confected outrage. I doubt anyone even gave a second thought to transwomen in our loos before the press kicked off about them in late 2022

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Susanne

Also you seem to have a problem with only one “dude” commenting here on issues that you say affect us, not “dudes”.
Yet you seem to have no problem with the other “dudes” speaking in our behalf. Seemingly in opposition of women only short lists at all. You pick odd allies.
Your exclusionary feminism is nothing like my intersectional feminism so please don’t be so confident that you are speaking for all women. The YouGov surveys indicate that way more women feel like me than like you and the Social Media crusaders

CapM
CapM
6 months ago

“As yet, details of the final draft of the relevant clauses have not been revealed.”.

Lots of people getting hot flushes about this issue already and that’s just counting middle aged men.

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
6 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Sexist and ageist. You forgot skin colour. Please try to add something of substance.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Reductio ad absurdum fallacy. You really like to insult people don’t you?

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago

Whilst I know I will get banned again for this, once again a minor procedural point is being used to give transwomen a kicking. Once again only trans exclusionary opinions are platformed. And the comments are full of lies about transwomen, AND the validity of all female shortlists, thereby continuing to undermine the rights of natal women too. LIKE I SAID last time this story “came up”, and got banned for saying it because being kind to trans people is not permitted on Nation Cymru. Come on ladies, let’s stop shooting ourselves in the foot for right wing cats paw… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Sarah Good
Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
6 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

No one is being unkind to trans people here. And the validity of all-women shortlists is highly debatable (hint: they aren’t)

Maybe if you engaged in honest discussion, rather than ranting irrationally, you’d fare better.

Last edited 6 months ago by Steffan ap Huw
Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Really? Read the comments, including your own. Thank you for the gaslighting and the personal insults

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
6 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

Oh, knock it off! People having different views from you doesn’t make them an aggressor or you a victim. I reiterate: no one is being unkind to trans people here. Your calling out alleged transphobia has no mileage when it’s unfounded. Your denigrating my views just because I’m a man is childish and sexist, and you’ll forgive me for not taking your (largely incoherent) ramblings seriously. I’m perfectly entitled to express that enforced female-only shortlists are an awful and offensive idea, as also enforced male-only lists (though no-one is suggesting those). You thinking they’re okay, and that I should hold… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Steffan ap Huw
Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

He rants aggressively. Your postings are visible to all. Let them judge. You insult, you rage, you take offence whilst being offensive. You use hyperbole like “childish” “sexist” “largely incoherent ramblings” “not a rational thinker” “slinging the proverbial” “ranting irrationally”. I do not take any of your assertions seriously because when challenged you cannot defend them so you resort to aggression and personal insults. And you bang on about being entitled to an opinion. But here’s a shocker for you. So is everybody else. We have every right to challenge your opinions if you state them publicly. Even on Nation… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
6 months ago

What about having a quota for PEOPLE from working class backgrounds who are most definitely misrepresented.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

That would be nice. Or people who have worked at least. Not wealthy nepo kids, shady businessmen and “lord of the manor” types.

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