Manifestos from Scottish parties

How Scottish party manifestos compare on sex and gender

We are asking candidates and parties to #StandUpForSingleSexServices:

  • Stand up for single-sex services and sports for women and girls.
  • Protect children by implementing the Cass Report and finalising guidance for schools.
  • Say no to gender self-id, and get sex recorded clearly and accurately.
  • Drop dangerous plans to criminalise so-called “conversion therapy”.
  • Make sure no-one is hounded out of their job for saying sex is real.

We’ve compared the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos. What do the parties in Scotland have to say?

Scottish National Party (SNP)

The SNP manifesto says nothing about any of these issues. That is surprising, given how central they have been to the SNP-led Holyrood government, which has two more years to run before the next Scottish parliamentary election. There is still much discussion of banning “conversion therapy” in Holyrood but nothing in this manifesto. Holyrood’s attempt at changing how the Gender Recognition Act works was disallowed by the UK government, so it is notable that the SNP manifesto for Westminster MPs does not express a position on gender recognition.

Scottish Labour

The Scottish Labour Party manifesto has the same positions as UK Labour on the Equality Act, on implementing the Cass Review and on banning so-called “conversion therapy”, all of which we have reviewed.

As we’ve pointed out, the statement on the Equality Act is insufficient, because the single-sex exceptions are not working for women. Unless Labour recognises this, its promise has limited value.

Scottish Labour’s support for implementing the Cass Review north of the border is welcome. But it is undermined by the proposal to criminalise so-called “conversion therapy”, which Dr Cass explicitly flags as creating the risk that gender-confused children would not get the help they need. Scottish Labour has also distanced itself from the UK party’s position on a proposed ban on teaching “gender ideology” in schools.

Like UK Labour, Scottish Labour says it wants to “reform the intrusive and outdated gender recognition law”. But it acknowledges that it cannot do this unilaterally in Holyrood when it says: 

“This is devolved but also interacts with reserved legislation.” 

Scottish Conservatives

The Scottish Conservatives’ manifesto is clear and explicit on the need to recognise that biological sex is a reality and sometimes this matters, in line with the UK party’s manifesto. There is explicit support for clarifying the Equality Act, for implementing the recommendations of the Cass Review, for protecting single-sex spaces, services and sport, for schools guidance that protects all children, and for clear data on sex. The party acknowledges the complexity around attempting to outlaw “conversion practices” beyond what is already unlawful. It says: 

“Two years ago, the Scottish Conservatives were the only party to vote against the SNP’s gender reforms. We will continue to oppose any attempt to bring back Nicola Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill.”

Scottish Greens

The Scottish Greens, who until April 2024 were in partnership with the SNP in the Scottish parliament, want full sex self-ID, by bringing back the Gender Recognition Reform bill that was blocked by the UK government. This was, say the Scottish Greens, “intent on waging culture wars against vulnerable groups”. Their manifesto also proposes a full ban on so-called conversion practices for “LGBTQIA+ people” and recognition for non-traditional families such as “gender non-binary couples”. There is no mention of the Cass Review.


By contrast, the pro-independence Alba party manifesto includes commitments to:

“Support clarity in law that a woman is an adult human female.

Support immediate and full implementation of Cass Review in all areas relevant to Scotland.

Support the EqA protections against discrimination and supports efforts to clarify that in relation to sex-based discrimination, sex means biological sex. 

Support the sex-based rights of women and girls at a local level.

Say without hesitation that a woman is an adult human female.

Support changes to the Equality Act that make clear that in regards to protection from sex-baed discrimination  sex means biological sex.”