Nov. 21st, 2013

Dear Mr Chisholm,

I wish to thank you very much for your vote in favour of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. This ensures that Scotland continues its progression as a country equal for all its citizens in her laws. Sometimes, absent of party hackery and tribalism, I can be in awe of the maturity and respect in the Scottish Parliament. I was deeply moved and delighted by the turnout and generally very high quality of the debate.

But the process isn't over. I write to you today to ask you to consider the amendments to the bill submitted to the Scottish Equal Opportunities Committee, which will further improve it for transgender and intersex individuals.

The Equality Network, headquartered in our constituency and with wide-reaching contributors, has proposed five amendments.

1) To end the spousal veto on gender recognition. Uncooperative spouses can deny gender recognition - requiring a divorce for the trans person to be legally recognised as the gender they live as.
2) A reduction in the age required for gender recognition. Although trans people could easily satisfy all of the conditions required to receive gender recognition by the time they are 16, they are barred from applying because of their age. This is discriminatory and unfair.
3) Alternative evidence requirements for long term transitioned people. Given the difficulties in seeking a diagnosis for gender dysphoria in the first place, and if the patient has been out of the process for a period of time, it can be even more difficult. Seeking reassignment after marriage compounds this issue.
4) Allowing gender-neutral ceremonies. In truth, removing gender from our marriage laws sounds like a simple remedy.
5) To allow people with foreign civil partnerships to marry. Reasonably straightforward.

These amendments are discussed in detail in the Equality Network's pamphlet, which I link to a PDF copy below.

http://www.scottishtrans.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Equal-Marriage-Amendments-Briefing.pdf

I would also hope that support could further be raised for heterosexual couples to have a civil partnership ceremony should they so wish. That way, both straight and LGBTI couples can be said to be equal in relationship law.

I trust you will consider the amendments' remedies to each of these concerns. I'd like you to vote in favour of them.

With kind regards,

Scott Macdonald

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