Most Scots back plans to reform the law so that people can self-declare their gender, according to the findings of a landmark public consultation.

Those who took part in the Scottish Government survey have also supported proposals to create a legally recognised third gender for people who do not identify as either male or female.

The consultation ran between November 2017 and March 2018. A total of 15,532 people and 165 groups responded.

Three in five believed Scots should be able to self-declare their gender, while 62 per cent said Scotland should take action to recognise a third, non-binary gender that is neither male nor female. 

Self-declaration would allow people to legally change gender without having to demonstrate a diagnosis of gender dysphoria or that they had lived for a period in their acquired gender.

The results indicate popular support for proposals to make it easier for transgender people to change their birth certificates and have their identity legally recognised.

But they also make clear the deep divisions in Scottish society over the issue, with concerns self-declaration could pose a risk to women’s safety and erode their rights. 

The Equality Network said the findings showed there were good majorities in favour of “fully inclusive reform”, while the Scottish Trans Alliance welcomed the “high levels of consultation support”. 

But Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute, which opposes the plans, insisted the results were not representative. 

He said: “I doubt the self-selecting group who responded to this consultation is representative of Scottish public opinion as a whole. 

“How many people really want to see 16-year-old-children locking themselves into gender-change at an age when many are still coming to terms with who they are? And the idea of a third gender is just that, an idea, not a reality.” 

“When the police find DNA at a crime scene, it tells them whether the perpetrator was male or female. 

“When doctors prescribe medicine, they alter the dose depending on whether the patient is male or female. 

“The patient’s life may depend on it. All the political posturing in the world can’t erase the hard-wired reality of male and female.”

Ministers launched a consultation last year on planned reforms to the UK Gender Recognition Act 2004.

It included plans for a shake-up of Scotland’s current gender laws, as well as options to officially recognise those who identify as non-binary. 

More than half (60%) of those who took part backed the Government’s plan to allow people to change gender by self-declaration, while a similar proportion (61%) said this should be open to those aged 16 and over.

Almost half (48%) of all those who responded to the consultation did not think there should be a limit on the number of times someone could change gender.

However, controversial proposals to allow children under16 to legally change gender were less popular, with many saying this was too young to make such a fundamental decision.

The Scottish Government’s consultation report also noted: “The opportunity for residents of other parts of the UK to have their gender legally recognised in Scotland was seen as beneficial and some expressed a hope the introduction of self-declaration in Scotland would encourage other 
jurisdictions to move forward with their own gender recognition procedures.”

When the proposals were unveiled, Equalities Minister Angela Constance said more needed to be done to progress equality for transgender and non-binary people.

She said the law in Scotland needed to be reformed so it treated transgender and non-binary people with “dignity, fairness and respect”.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have published the independent analysis of responses. We will consider this analysis and the views of consultees as we take forward our commitment to bring forward legislation on gender recognition.”