THE UK Government has confirmed they will fight the Scottish Government's legal challenge of their Gender Recognition Reform law veto.

A spokesman for the Scotland Office said they would "robustly defend" Alister Jack's unprecedented use of the Section 35 Act, insisting that the legislation, passed by MSPs before Christmas, would have "an adverse effect on reserved matters."

Last month, Humza Yousaf confirmed that the Scottish Government would take legal action to save the Bill. 

The new law aims to simplify the process for obtaining a gender recognition certificate by removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

It also reduces the length of time someone would need to live in their acquired gender from two years to less than 12 months, and lowers the minimum age for applications from 18 to 16. 

The Section 35 order prevented the Bill from obtaining royal assent. It was the first time in the history of devolution that the power has been used.

Outlining his reasons for the block, Mr Jack warned it would impact the UK-wide Equality Act, and create "two parallel and very different regimes" for issuing and interpreting Gender Recognition Certificates.

The Scottish Government is now seeking to have the Section 35 order set aside in a judicial review at the Court of Session.

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Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville told MSPs the veto was imposed without previous notification, without specific requests for changes to the Bill, without “sufficient justification”, and in breach of previous cross-border agreements. 

Given the use of a Section 35 veto is unprecedented, she also said it was important to have clarity on the interpretation and scope of the power and its impact on devolution.

“Those matters and the use of the power on this occasion should be legally tested in the courts,” she said. 

The judicial review will be heard initially in the Outer House of the Court of Session by a single judge, who will be asked to decide whether Mr Jack’s decision-making was flawed on the basis of illegality, procedural unfairness, or irrationality.

The losing side can then appeal to a panel of judges in the Inner House, and from there to the UK Supreme Court.

On Thursday, the UK Government confirmed that the Advocate General for Scotland, representing the Secretary of State for Scotland, has informed the Court of Session that they would contest the petition for judicial review.

Confirming that they would be challenging the judicial review, a UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government will robustly defend the Secretary of State’s decision to prevent the Scottish Government's Gender Recognition Reform Bill from becoming law.

“We are clear that the proposed legislation would have an adverse effect on reserved matters, including on the operation of the law as it applies to Great Britain-wide equalities protections.”

Speaking to reporters after First Minister's Questions, Humza Yousaf was asked if he thought the court case was a waste of money. 

"It's not a waste of money," he said. "I engaged in this court process because I'm not prepared to accept a Westminster veto over legislation that's passed by a majority."

Greens MSP Maggie Chapman claimed the UK Government has launched "a direct attack on the work of the Scottish Parliament and the trans community in Scotland".

She added: “The Tories cannot be trusted - on equality, on fairness, or on Scotland. Every day we see another example of how they are conspiring against the will of the Scottish Parliament and the voters who put us there.

“That includes trans people, voters who put their faith in us.

"Those who have already waited too long for fairness must now endure a legal battle where other people will argue over who it is they are allowed to be. 

“It's disgraceful, sickening really. But I remain supremely confident that history is on our side.”