The public will be consulted again before the law is changed to allow people to declare their own gender, Equalities Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has told MSPs.

In a statement to the Parliament, Ms Somerville also committed to reviewing guidance to public bodies and addressing concerns that the change would weaken sex-based protection for women.

The announcement of a second consultation on plans for reform of the Gender Recognition Act was given a muted welcome by the Scottish Trans Alliance and the Equality Network amid warnings that the law might not now be passed before end of the current Parliament.

The Gender Recognition (Scotland) Bill is being brought forward in order to remove the requirement for trans people to provide medical evidence of ‘gender dysphoria’ or to have lived in their adopted gender for two years in order to qualify for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Campaigners for women’s rights who have expressed concerns that it will be open to abuse, and will undermine hard-won sex-based protections for women welcomed the announcement. Women and Girls in Scotland said: We are very happy that the government has taken on the majority of our recommendations in our Female Only Provision Report. This government response is the result of the hard work of a great many women.”

However Glasgow SNP councillor Rhiannon Spear, whose recent open letter in support of trans people gathered more than 500 signatures, showed her concern after the announcement. In a Tweet bearing the blue, white and pink trans pride flag she appeared to address trans people, saying: “I’m so sorry it’s come to this. I’m so sorry the conversation has failed you. I’m so sorry that you have to wait. You deserve better.”

Ms Somerville told MSPs an Equality Impact Assessment will be published alongside the bill, which will be in draft form to allow for a full public consultation on its detail and to seek to address concerns which have been raised.

While removing the current requirements for applicants to provide medical evidence of gender dysphoria it will retain the requirement that applicants must make a solemn statutory declaration they have been living in their acquired gender and intend to do so permanently, she said. The consultation will also seek views on how young people should be covered by the rules.

Ms Somerville said: “I understand that people have valid concerns, particularly around single sex services. Through ensuring there is a full consultation on the proposals in the draft bill, we can make sure these are fully addressed and people are aware of, and understand, our proposals.”

Patrick Harvie MSP, Parliamentary co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said a self declaration system had already been introduced without problems in other countries, but said many such concerns are not about trans people, but about abusive men and the threat they pose. “All women, including trans women, as well as other trans and non-binary people, are at particular risk from such behaviour, and so we should all want that issue to be taken seriously,” he said.

Trans people had been waiting a long time for reform, he added: “It is vital that legislation is introduced in time so it can be completed before the Parliament ends.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said it was unlikely the legislation would now pass before the next Scottish Parliament election. He called on the minister to bring forward a draft bill at the same time as holding its consultation. However Ms Somerville described the suggestion as “unadvisable”.

Colin Macfarlane Director of Stonewall Scotland said the existing system was “outdated, intrusive and medicalised” and it was ‘absolutely vital’ the 2016 manifesto pledge was delivered before the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.

“Any further delay will allow more fear and misinformation jto spread, and that will profoundly impact on trans people’s quality of life in Scotland,” he said. “It is important the second round of public consultation doesn’t delay legislative progress.”

Becky Kaufmann, Justice Policy Officer at Scottish Trans Alliance, said, “We warmly welcome that the draft bill will remove the offensive and intrusive requirement that trans women and trans men provide psychiatric and medical reports in order to change their birth certificates.”

Such a bill would be short and not complicated to draft, so the Scottish Trans Alliance and Equality Network are calling on the Scottish Government to publish the draft bill swiftly after the summer recess, sye said.

James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, said “It has already been sixteen months since the initial consultation on Gender Recognition Act reform closed. Long delays between announcements and actions embolden those who are prejudiced against trans people, and create intense distress for many vulnerable trans people.”

Criminologist Dr Kath Murray of the Murray Blackburn Mackenzie consultancy said the original consultation had not considered how gender self-ID would impact ont he rights of women and girls. “There are currently major evidence gaps on how statutory gender self-identification will affect other areas of law and policy, which need to be properly reviewed ahead of any legislative steps,” she said.