Sturgeon forced to instantly U-turn on BBC interview after drinking age change backlash


Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to correct herself after saying that the age at which people can drink in Scotland could be “looked at” as she was quizzed over the SNP’s gender reform bill. She admitted that other age limits could be examined after passing legislation that allows 16 years olds to identify as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. Speaking to Laura Kuensseberg on her BBC show on Sunday, Ms Sturgeon said: “You can take a view about if what I am about to say is right or wrong, in Scotland, you can choose to get married, have a child, and join the army (at 16).

“Additional measures were amended into the legislation so that there is greater advice and support available to the tiny number of people who want to go through this process.

“When I was growing up…there used to be a view that there should be a single age of consent…over time I think it is right to look at ‘why can’t a 16-year-old drink alcohol in a pub’, you need to look at the particular circumstances, the physical issues around some of these things.

“But the point I’m making….is all of these issues in Scotland have been in detail and this is legislation that has probably been subject to more scrutiny that any legislation that has passed in the Scottish Parliament for over 25 years.”

But following the interview airing on Twitter, the SNP leader was quick to correct the record, saying: “This was bad phrasing on my part – so not having a go at the BBC – but this is not what I meant.”

In December, the Scottish Parliament passed a new law designed to make it easier for people in Scotland to change gender.

Under the new law, a lot of the bureaucracy involved with changing gender is removed. Transgender people in Scotland will no longer need a medical diagnosis.

Waiting times have also been cut from two years to six months, and the age limit for making the decision has been lowered to 16.

The Scottish Government criticised the previous system, branding it “demeaning, intrusive, distressing and stressful” to transgender people. 

But many women oppose the gender recognition bill over fears it could weaken the protection of women-only spaces like women-only shelters.

The governments in Edinburgh and London look set to go toe-to-toe in the courts over the policy after the UK government blocked the legislation.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack announced he would use section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 to stop the bill.

This is likely to lead to a constitutional row, as the SNP feels the policy has a democratic mandate having passed through Holyrood.

Ms Sturgeon warned earlier this week that the UK Government’s decision is the “worst of both worlds and a “full-frontal assault” on devolution.

The Scottish secretary, Alister Jack, announced that he would use section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 for the first time to halt the gender recognition bill after a review by UK government lawyers.

Westminster’s decision to use the “nuclear option” of blocking the bill from going for royal assent represents a significant escalation of tensions around the issue, and will enrage supporters of the changes and nationalists.


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