Transgender ideology is apparently an issue of some importance for the Scottish government. A government elected for the purpose of obtaining Scottish independence has double the number of civil servants working on its proposed Gender Recognition Act, than it does working on the proposed independence referendum, which it hopes to have done by the summer.
Part of this is because of the pushback against promises made by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP about allowing people to self-identify. Feminist activists and others are rightly concerned about where this is all going to lead. There has been significant opposition within the governing party itself – with the finance minister, Kate Forbes, herself a committed Christian, warning that many people are being silenced and intimidated from speaking.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) warned that the proposed GRA should be paused because not enough account has been taken of women's rights.
Nicola Sturgeon denies, despite all the evidence, that there is any conflict between transgender rights and sex-based rights. Anyone who dares to question that is automatically labelled 'transphobic' – but when even the Guardian is warning the Scottish government that they are going too far, you would think that this might give pause for thought.
Not that this has stopped the Scottish government from acting as though its policy were already law. In the upcoming census the government are allowing people to put down whatever sex they want (as far as I am aware this does not apply to whatever age you want, wherever you want to live or whatever ethnicity you want to be).
Given that government policy is based upon the census this is a serious issue. The Fair Play for Women organisation is taking the Scottish Government to court, arguing that sex is legally defined in law and cannot just be arbitrarily overridden by a government committed to this strange ideology. The government argues that we 'need to evolve with the times'.
It is somewhat puzzling as to why this issue is seen as so important. But Scotland is both an example and a warning to other Western liberal democracies when the governing parties are taken over by the Woke progressives. Social 'justice' issues – from their perspective - are their primary concern. Sometimes it seems as though when one 'progressive' country goes so far, the next wants to go even further.
One aspect of this is seen in the proposed anti-conversion therapy legislation. The Christian Institute recently warned that the Scottish Parliament's Equalities Committee was proposing "the most extreme legislation on conversion therapy in the world".
Seeking to emulate Victoria (in Australia) and Canada, they are determined to go even further. For example, they propose that ordinary religious teaching which deals with LGBT issues should only be permitted if it is done in a non-judgemental and non-directive way. They also suggest that religious communities should be 're-educated' to accept what the Government thinks about LGBT issues. Who knows? Perhaps church summer camps will now become 're-education camps' run by government officials who have received the appropriate doctrinal training?!
The irony and folly of the policy is seen when they argue that having everyone believing the same state doctrine is "crucial to promote diversity". It appears that we can believe and practise only what the government decrees.
Meanwhile it has become even more Orwellian. In a story that seems almost impossible to believe – but is true – Edinburgh charity worker Nicola Murray was recently visited by police who wanted to question her about a statement she made on social media concerning the Edinburgh Rape Crisis centre.
Mridul Wadhwa, a trans woman and CEO of the centre, has stated that woman who do not believe that a man can become a woman and who do not want to see men in a rape crisis centre should 'be challenged on their prejudices' and undergo re-education to deal with their bigotry. Understandably Nicola Murray said that her own charity, which supports domestic violence victims, would not be referring clients to the rape centre - and so the police came visiting.
Here is where it goes full 'thought crime'. The police accepted that Ms Murray had not committed a crime or said anything hateful, but that they needed to speak to her to 'ascertain what your thinking was behind the statement'.
In today's Britain police are being sent out to assess whether a thought crime has been committed – and because a woman questioned whether a biological male should be in charge of a women's refuge!
But it's not just the intimidation of those who don't buy into the new ideology that is concerning. The Scottish government is determined to indoctrinate this ideology into children. The education system is being used not to educate but to indoctrinate children into this new State ideology.
At the end of last year there was considerable parental concern about a questionnaire and survey that asked secondary school pupils about specific sexual practices. All of this was being done of course for 'health and safety' reasons, but when Scottish government ministers were asked to answer these questions themselves, they refused.
Each of these incidents is in and of themselves concerning. But taken together as a whole, they indicate an ideology that is out of control and a state culture which will end up doing enormous harm to children, women and indeed men.
Progressive ideology may sound fine in the halls of academia, the corridors of power and the dining rooms of middle-class suburbia. But the people who pay the price are the poor, the young and the vulnerable. I think Jesus had something to say about that – I wonder if his professing church will?
David Robertson works as an evangelist with churches in Sydney, Australia, where he runs the ASK Project. He blogs at The Wee Flea.