THOUGH no doubt the Gender Recognition Reform Bill was proposed, debated and finalised with the best of intentions, it seems to me, as obviously to a large proportion of the electorate, to be seriously flawed. Little as I like the bill, however, I like Alister Jack’s ham-fisted attempt to block it very much less.

The bill is a purely Scottish matter, decided by a majority vote in the democratically-elected Scottish Parliament, and applying only within Scotland: if it proves to have been a mistake, the Scottish politicians who perpetrated it will answer for it to the Scottish electorate. The Westminster veto is, quite patently, nothing but a gesture designed to proclaim the official Tory view that the Scottish Government acts solely on Westminster’s sufferance; and if allowed to stand, we may be sure that it will be a precedent for more and increasingly frequent attempts by Westminster to interfere in the affairs of the Scottish Government.

This should not be tolerated; and Humza Yousaf deserves all praise and support for his determination to challenge it in court ("FM criticised for challenging gender reform legal block", The Herald, April 13). I did not vote for him as party leader and First Minister, but I am unreservedly pleased that he is taking a firm stance in defence of the autonomy of our parliament.
Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.

A matter of principle
IT is a democratic outrage that Governor General Alister Jack used Section 35 to veto the democratic will of Scotland’s parliament, as supported by the SNP, Green, Labour and Lib Dem parties, for purely political reasons. If you support devolution, whatever your position on gender recognition reform, you should at the very least support Humza Yousaf’s principle of standing up for Scotland’s Parliament, if only to establish the limits of Holyrood’s rights to legislate within its remit. 

The GRR bill clearly states that nothing in it impacts on the Equality Act. Westminster didn’t ask for amendments to the bill through its nine-month passage in Holyrood and react have refused Scottish offers to work with the UK Government on potential changes. If Mr Jack and the UK Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch were confident in their positions, they would not have refused the invitations extended to appear before Holyrood committees where they could be cross-examined by MSPs from all parties.

The UK currently accepts gender recognition certificates from more than 60 countries that operate a self-ID procedure, but apparently not for the handful of transgender people from Scotland who might move to England. If the use of Section 35 isn’t challenged, it will soon become the norm and result in even further erosion of the powers of our Scottish Parliament that have been reduced since Westminster's power grab following Brexit.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Let us see the legal advice
BEARING in mind the normal rule in litigation that the unsuccessful party pays both sides’ legal expenses, someone who chooses to embark on costly court action without clear advice that they have reasonable prospects of success can be fairly described as foolish.

To take such a step when they are risking not their own but someone else’s money can fairly be described as irresponsible.

The various unsuccessful forays into the Court of Session and the Supreme Court by the Scottish Government have so far cost the Scottish taxpayer many hundreds of thousands of pounds. The total figure has never been disclosed.

Both the former deputy President and a former Justice of the Supreme Court have expressed the view that the prospects for a successful challenge to the UK’s blocking of the gender reforms are poor. If the Scottish Government is to take us taxpayers down the depressingly expensive path leading to the Supreme Court, we are surely entitled to see the legal advice obtained or, at the very least, be told that it has received advice that there are reasonable prospects and who provided that advice.

If there is no such advice, are the Scottish taxpayers not entitled to conclude that this is merely political posturing at their expense?
George Moore (Solicitor-Advocate), Glasgow.

📝 Sign up for our Letter of the Day newsletter and receive our Letters Editor's choice every day at 8pm.

Get insight from fellow readers and join in on what has Scotland talking. Exclusive responses to our writers and spirited debate on a whole host of issues will be sent directly to your inbox.

👉 Click here to sign up

Read more: Humza Yousaf's gender reform legal bid 'weak', says former top judge

Diversionary tactic
IT has long been clear that First Minster Humza Yousaf was in all likelihood going to challenge the decision by the UK Government to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill passed in the Scottish Parliament. The recent calamitous headlines round the SNP have educated his decision purely as a diversionary tactic regardless of the waste of public money and time that will be the result. 

Only Mr Yousaf could ignore the eminent Lord Hope, former Deputy President of the Supreme Court, who commented that the Scottish legislation “most certainly does" impact on the Equality Act 2004. Further he notes that a court challenge is “risking wasting a lot of time and money” and that the “prospects of success were very low”. Mr Yousaf will come to regret not following this sound advice.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

This makes Q Anon seem sensible
A NUMBER of years ago I, along with the other members of the then EIS Executive, was handed a pre-publication copy of the proposed Named Person legislation for comment. Having read through it carefully we found a more joined-up version of current good practice. What we did not find was any of the horrific consequences that were being suggested would ensue if it were enacted. Indeed much of what was said about it then and even since it hit the buffers of data protection legislation makes the babblings of the Q Anon shaman seem almost sensible.

I have not read the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, but the snippets of unbiased journalism I have read which detail what it does and doesn’t achieve and what, in fact, applies under the existing legislation anyway suggest to me that a similar process is under way. Now as then any legitimate concerns are being drowned out by a combination of political axe grinders and fringe activists attempting to shout everybody else down.

Despite being passed by large majorities of MSPs who had presumably read the bills carefully and thoroughly (remember the Named Persons Bill achieved a 104-0 majority on its first reading) unpopularity with public opinion is cited as a reason for abandoning them. Perhaps informed public opinion, but in these polarised times I’m not sure that exists.

If we wish to progress out of the current political Stone Age we need letter writers, commentators and journalists to call out opposition for the sake of it and the lunatic fringe of public discourse rather than endorse their views.
Robin Irvine, Helensburgh.

• I NOTE Michael Watson's letter (April 13).

A majority of MSPs voted for the GRR reforms: that is a proven fact. The majority of "the public", in my view, have no strong opinion on the matter at all.
Allan McDougall, Neilston.

Read more: UK should get auditors to look at Scottish Government books

This is not in our name
THE SNP Government is demonstrably no longer working for the people of Scotland but for itself. Mr Yousaf, taking yet another leaf out of Nicola Sturgeon's handbook, sent his Social Justice Secretary to announce the court challenge. This is in order to try and extricate himself when this goes disastrously wrong. 

Another Herald front page story, that of the doctor asked if he was pregnant before his blood could be donated  ("Male blood donors asked if they are pregnant", The Herald, April 13), shows the direction of travel of the SNP/Green reforms. It is also very pointed that this action is being taken on behalf of the Scottish Government who passed these reforms, but not on behalf of the Scottish people who are against them. It is another example of an immovable SNP/Green object meeting an irresistible public force, but this time something has to give. 
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow. 

Time to stop the madness
BEING slightly unhinged seems to be no reason for concern in Scotland, especially in the NHS. Now, however, they are going what I believe is called "full tonto". We have a recent case of a GP, Dr Steffen McAndrew, whose attempt to do his civic duty as a blood donor was blocked because he refused to state that he was not pregnant.

Who started this takeover of the NHS by gender madness? Which minister gave the order for it? Which committee laboured long and hard to produce such insanity? Which senior managers implemented it without protest?

You can change what you think you are (your gender). You can change what you want to be called. And now you are in many places required to state your pronouns. But what you cannot change is your biological sex from birth. Is it too much to ask that the NHS, which is supposed to be based on science and not voodoo, recognises that?
Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.