Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, 52, who led the country’s independence movement for eight years, has said that she would resign, at the time when her push for allowing people to change genders legally has become a subject of criticism.
She made the announcement on Wednesday at a news conference held in her official residence in Edinburg while saying that the duty of serving well is to know when to make way for someone else.
She told reporters, “In my head and my heart I know that time is now. That it’s right for me, for my party and my country.”
Since 2014 Sturgeon has led Scotland when Scots voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom. Though the referendum was approved as a once-in-a-generation decision on independence, Ms Sturgeon and her Scottish National Party demanded a new vote as according to them, Britain’s removal from the European Union had altered the ground rules. But the UK government declined to sanction the second referendum.
She said that she struggled with her decision to resign, and is “not a reaction to short-term pressures.”
“Of course, there are difficult issues confronting the government just now, but when is that ever not the case?”
Ms Sturgeon’s announcement to resign surprised the political observers amid her stringent support for independence as well as the measure that allowed Scots to change genders legally.
In Scotland, the gender recognition bill, hailed as very important by transgender rights activists, would permit people aged 16 or older in Scotland to change their gender designations legally on identity documents by self-declaration, eliminating the requirement to opt for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
The Scottish parliaments passed the bill, however, the British government hindered the bill as it would make it difficult for the authorities in other parts of the UK, which requires a medical diagnosis first before changing their gender on legal documents.
Sturgeon has pledged to take the British government to court and argued that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government has made a “profound mistake” by rejecting the legislation.
Sturgeon has been criticised by some members of the SNP for announcing that she would make the next Scottish parliament election a de facto referendum on independence. Next month, the SNP will hold a meeting to discuss the strategy, with some members considering it is invalid and others condemning Sturgeon for waiting too long to move forward.
The gender recognition bill was challenged by some members of the party who believed that it overlooked the importance to protect single-sex spaces for women, such as domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centres.
Like Wales and North Ireland, Scotland is also a part of the UK and is governed by its own semi-autonomous government with powers over issues such as health care.