THE SNP’s gender reforms are “not controversial” and Humza Yousaf is right to challenge the UK Government for blocking them, the party’s deputy leader at Westminster has said.

Mhairi Black, the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, was a prominent supporter of Mr Yousaf's leadership campaign even arguing that the SNP could split if his rival Kate Forbes became party leader and First Minister.

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Mr Yousaf was elected SNP leader yesterday and is due to become Scotland's sixth First Minister after a vote in Holyrood this afternoon.

The Glasgow Pollok MSP was the only one of the three candidates to champion the Gender Recognition Reform Bill during the leadership contest. He has until mid April to launch a judicial review against the UK Government's veto.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf calls for party unity as he narrowly beats Kate Forbes

Following his election to the top job he confirmed he would press ahead with a challenge to the UK Government from stopping the legislation from receiving royal assent.

After his victory speech Mr Yousaf was asked by journalists if he would challenge the Section 35 order used by the UK Government to block the GRR bill.

He replied: “They do not have any right to use that excessive justified power given that the majority of Hollywood, of course, backed the GRR bill.

“My first principle, my starting principle, is to challenge that Section 35 order."

His statement suggested a strengthening of his position from last week when he said he would only challenge the block if legal advice suggests it would be successful.

Legal action could deepen tensions in the SNP which is divided over the bill which was passed in the Scottish Parliament in December with nine SNP MSPs rebelling against the government including leadership rival Ash Regan who resigned as a minister over the issue.

Kate Forbes who was Mr Yousaf's closest rival in the leadership contest and was on maternity leave during the votes on the bill has said she would not have backed the reforms.

READ MORE: Poll Scotland: Half of Scots think country 'headed in wrong direction'

The legislation makes it easier for a transgender person to change their legal gender by lowering the age from 18 to 16, shortening the length of time a person is required to live in their acquired gender and removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria by allowing people to self declare their gender. The UK Government vetoed the bill over fears it would clash with equalites laws, which are reserved.

Ms Black told Times Radio this morning: “I think he is quite within his rights to do that because ultimately if they (the British Government) can get away with it then there is absolutely nothing stopping them doing it when it comes to other devolved issues.

“When it comes to the actual detail of what the policy does, it is really not controversial.

“But a lot of the criticisms of it, I think, are based on misinformation or people not having an idea of what the full picture is.”

She added: “What this is about is pointing out that Westminster can’t just keep riding roughshod over the Scottish Parliament.

“This is something that is completely within the devolved capabilities and yet the UK Government and a Tory Government we have not voted for is telling us that they can dictate what laws we can make in Scotland and I don’t think that is right.”

READ MORE: A&E waits worsen again on Yousaf's last day as Health Secretary

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also gave his backing to Mr Yousaf and his commitment to gender reform.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Flynn played down the extent of SNP division over the issue.

“As I understand it from looking at vote transfers yesterday, I think around two-thirds of the membership cast a vote in favour of both Humza and Kate (Forbes) on transfers.

“So this notion that we are eternally divided is not true and certainly not true over the GRR (gender recognition reform) either.

“It was quite clear there’s differences of opinion but the reality is that the Scottish Parliament through Scottish Labour MSPs, Lib Dem MSPs some Conservative MSPs, Green MSPs and Scottish National Party MSPs passed legislation, and the UK Government is now seeking to stand in the way of that. That’s a democratic blocker of Scotland.”

Asked if Mr Yousaf should include Ms Forbes in this Cabinet, Mr Flynn said that “if there is the opportunity to do so”, but added he was “not privy” to the conversations.

He praised the former leadership contender as an “unbelievably talented politician”.

Meanwhile, Mr Yousaf’s campaign manager said the new SNP leader will seek to “defend democracy” by pressing ahead with controversial gender reforms blocked by the UK Government.

Neil Gray, who is also the Scottish culture minister, told Times Radio: “I think there is an important principle at stake here.

“Of course he is going to listen to the legal advice – he has to do that – but there is an important principle at stake which is about the democracy and the democratic mandate given to the Scottish Parliament that must be defended.

“A two-thirds majority passed the Gender Recognition Bill in the Scottish Parliament

“MSPs from every single political party supported it, so it is right now that Humza Yousaf – at the first time that section 35 of the Scotland Act has been used – tests that and challenges it, because democracy is at stake.

“We must defend Scottish democracy and devolution. Otherwise, what is the point?”

While the gender reforms were passed in Holyrood with MSPs across the chamber supporting the legislation, surveys of Scottish voters suggest the public is not on board with the changes proposed.

A poll in December found that around two thirds of Scots opposed the central pillars of the legislation.

Research by YouGov for The Times has found that voters were most sceptical about lowering the age threshold with 66 per cent opposed. This included 63 per cent of SNP voters, 67 per cent of Labour voters and 75 per cent of Liberal Democrats, despite all three parties backing the bill at Holyrood.

The Scottish Conservatives was the only party to oppose the reforms, though its MSPs were allowed a free vote with some of the party's MSPs voting to support the bill.