THE Gender Recognition Reform Bill will not be reviewed to give more protections to women's spaces, according to Scotland's Justice Secretary Keith Brown.

The legislation was blocked by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack earlier this month after government lawyers advised it would conflict with the operation of UK equalities legislation. Mr Jack told Scottish ministers to revise the bill and resubmit it.

As a row continued over the decision - later dropped - to hold a double rapist in Cornton Vale women's prison, Mr Brown was asked this morning whether he would revise the GRR bill to ensure more protections for some women's spaces. 

"The bill was passed by democratically by the Scottish Parliament. It is not Nicola Sturgeon's bill, it's not my bill, it is not the SNP's bill. It was a bill passed by parties in the Scottish Parliament," he said.

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"And that had provision to allow the police to make an order which would stop someone transitioning towards achieving a GRC. So we believed that covered that."

SNP MP Angus MacNeil over the weekend joined a growing rebellion within his own party against the GRR Bill which will, if enacted, make it easier to change gender without medical intervention through a process of self-declaration.

Mr MacNeil was responding to a call by another SNP critic of the bill, the MSP Ash Regan, who had raised concern about the possibility of another violent prisoner Tiffany Scott being transferred to Cornton Vale.

Ms Regan tweeted: "Tiffany Scott - formerly Andrew Burns, one of the most dangerous prisoners in Scotland has gained approval to be moved to the women’s prison estate. Scott has attacked female prison officers and stalked a child from prison. No men should be placed in a women’s prison."

Mr MacNeil replied: "Ash is quite right and should have been listened to, along with others. Holyrood has to sort this mess and fast - no need for Westmin or European Courts - Holyrood's MSPs who were led to pass legislation that would entrench this have to reverse - and quickly."

Asked about Mr MacNeil's comments and whether the bill would be reviewed Mr Brown said it would not.

"We will not be reversing that bill. The bill was passed," he told BBC Radio Scotland Good Morning Scotland.

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Pushed on whether it would be amended to ensure women's equality and make women's groups feel protected, he turned his attention to the row with the UK Government over the bill.

He said: "There is no indication of what the UK [Government] wants to see amended. Alister Jack is unable to articulate what change would make it acceptable. In that case we would have to conclude this is merely a political act by the UK Government. 
"There is no indication what they think is wrong with it that could be made right."

The GRRB makes it easier for transgender people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) allowing them a legal document stating their new gender.  As well as reducing the time a person had to live in their acquired gender, it removed the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria allowing people to self-declare their gender.

During the bill's parliamentary journey critics raised concerns the reforms could make it easier for predatory men and men with criminal convictions of violence against women to obtain a GRC and enter women only spaces such as changing rooms and female prisons to target women and greater safeguards should be in place.

An amendment to the GRRB tabled by Tory MSP Russell Findlay, which would have placed barriers in the way of convicted sex offenders being able to apply for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) was defeated by 59 votes to 64 with two abstentions.

A separate amendment by SNP MSP Michelle Thomson, who has spoken publicly of being sexually assaulted as a teenager, which would prevent someone charged with sexual crimes from applying for a GRC until after the trial, was also narrowly defeated.

Instead ministers accepted a crossparty amendment from the SNP's Gillian Martin and Scottish Tory Jamie Greene that would mean anyone convicted of a sexual offence who wants to apply for a certificate will need to be fully risk-assessed.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, a UN expert on gender identity, and Reem Alsalem, the UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women, gave different views to members of Holyrood’s equalities committee on the bill's implications.

Ms Alsalem said plans to introduce self-ID could see violent men taking advantage of loopholes “to get into women’s spaces and have access to women”.

However, Mr Madrigal-Borloz told the committee there was “no evidence” that “maintaining complexity in the process of recognition of gender identity would be an effective safeguard”.

Until a review of prison policy was announced yesterday the Scottish Prison Service operated a process of self declaration based on what gender a person identified as when deciding where he or she should be held as well as taking in risk issues.

However, a public outcry broke out after it emerged transgender woman Isla Bryson, who was convicted of raping two women, was sent to Cornton Vale following her conviction last Tuesday. She was moved on Thursday evening to the male prison HMP Edinburgh.

Last night Mr Brown announced that no transgender prisoner with a history of violence against women will be placed in the women's prison estate - while an "urgent" review has also been ordered.