EQUALITY campaigners are to give evidence in a legal case which they say would have a “chilling effect” on transgender Scots. 

Scottish Trans (ST) has been granted permission to intervene in a case which is being taken by a women’s rights group over the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act 2018.

The Act is supposed to improve gender equality within Scottish public bodies, by requiring 50 per cent of non-executive board members to be women.

However two years after the law was introduced, campaigners For Women Scotland (FWS) are arguing that the Scottish Government did not have the right to introduce it as equalities legislation is reserved to Westminster.

FWS also argue that the Act has been used to bring in legal “self-identification of sex” by the back door, and say the Scottish Government has redefined the definition of a woman in the legislation. 

High-profile QC Dorothy Bain is to represent ST in the case, which is due to be heard by the Court of Session on January 7 2021. 

Senior judges this week granted Scottish Trans permission to act as third-party ‘interveners’, which allows it to submit evidence to the court about why it believes changing the legislation would be unnecessary.

Vic Valentine, Scottish Trans manager said: “Trans people deserve the same dignity and privacy as everyone else. Why should we have to reveal intimate details about our history and private life, before we can, say, sit on the board for the Accounts Commission or the National Library? 

"This misguided case will have a chilling effect on the willingness of trans people to take part in public life. It’s telling us that we are not welcome or wanted.  

“This law was passed in 2018, and has been working well, encouraging more women into public life. If this case succeeds and the requirement for 50% of board members to be women is thrown out, it will set back the rights of all women to take part in public life in Scotland – not just trans women. 

"We believe women should have their voices heard by public bodies, and trans women should not be singled out to be excluded.” 

The organisation is being represented by JustRight Scotland, which has instructed Ms Bain in the case. 

Jen Ang, director at JustRight Scotland said: "We are supporting Scottish Trans to intervene in this case as part of our work to ensure that people who are affected by potential changes to the law have the chance to exercise their legal rights, including having a fair opportunity to explain to the judge how that change might impact them. 

"As an organisation, we aim to help people find ways of participating in legal processes where the outcome of a court decision directly affects them and those they support."