MARK Smith writes "I was there" about the repeal of Section 28 in 2000, and goes on to say that gender recognition reform differs from that repeal, because it involves other people's rights as well as trans people's ("Scotland is much nicer than the rest of the UK (not really)", The Herald, November 30).

I was there too, both in 1988 when we campaigned to try to stop the introduction of Section 28, and in 2000 when we campaigned successfully to repeal it.

In fact, repeal of Section 28 was opposed for similar "rights clash" reasons to gender recognition reform. Opponents said it would take away parents' rights, and that their children would have compulsory "gay sex lessons in schools". Of course it did no such thing.

The same happened with same-sex marriage in 2014: opponents said it would take away churches' rights, because they would be forced to conduct same-sex marriages. Of course it did not.

These feared clashes of rights can always be solved by goodwill and a real commitment to everyone's equality.

The true difference between Section 28 repeal, equal marriage, and gender recognition reform now, is something else. It is that for the first two, the UK governments (Tony Blair's and David Cameron's) supported equality, and worked constructively with the Scottish Government to deal with cross-border issues and issues with reserved equality law.

In contrast, the current UK Government, which supported gender recognition reform under Theresa May, has, under Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, done a U-turn. Having blocked the Scottish bill, it has point blank refused requests to discuss why, or a way forward, with either the Scottish Government or with Scottish Parliament committees.

It is politics, not insurmountable problems with the subject matter, that is preventing gender recognition reform from progressing.

Tim Hopkins, Director, Equality Network, Edinburgh.

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Minor storm in a dust bowl

I KNOW it is the principle of the thing, but do women and marginalised groups really lie awake at night, raging because Mars comes out worst with most planet surface names biased towards men ("Planet surface names are biased in favour of men, says academic", The Herald, November 20)?

As a woman I can at least be pleased that most ships are named after women. Or should I be upset because storms used to be named after women but now are named after both. Is this a further attempt to sideline women?

Researcher Annie Lennox trivialises the equality debate by making such a fuss about guidelines for naming planet surface features not being inclusive enough. Planet surface names are hardly the talk of the steamie and if they were I imagine that Dr Lennox’s outraged championing of diversity in naming galactic dust bowls would be met with howls of laughter.

Irene Munro, Conon Bridge.

The Herald: China is a major polluter, not ScotlandChina is a major polluter, not Scotland (Image: Getty)

Scapegoating Scotland

IN his Agenda article (“We must ensure the biggest polluters pick up the tab”, The Herald, November 20) Jamie Livingstone signed off as Head of Oxfam Scotland. However, it seems that when he wrote it, he was wearing his other hat as a board member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

I would like to reassure all Scots, and particularly the 5% wealthiest, that they are not, to quote Mr Livingstone, “driving climate chaos”. Mr Livingstone needs to be reminded of the scientific consensus whereby changes in global weather patterns are attributed primarily to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The UK contributed 0.8% of global GHG emissions in 2022 (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research, 2023) and Scotland contributed around 0.08%. By what convoluted logic can Scotland, far less any scapegoated minority of its population, be accused of “driving climate chaos” when China contributed 29% and the USA 11% of global emissions?

Several other countries were each responsible for 0.08% of global emissions in 2022. Presumably Mr Livingstone would also accuse Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Niger and Trinidad & Tobago of “burning our world” and “polluting the planet to the point of destruction”? This well-intentioned but juvenile hyperbole is more likely to raise a laugh than win over hearts and minds.

Iain Wilkie, Strachur.

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Foreign words ad nauseum

PERHAPS I’m alone in finding myself getting increasingly irritated by the use of "foreign" words in the media and its subsequent spread into everyday speech. The Sun and its ilk have long been guilty of ditching words which they can’t fit into a newspaper headline and resorting to a shorter alien equivalent. "Police" has now become "cops" whilst a "robbery" is now a "heist". These interlopers are American slang terms which didn’t feature in our press 30 years ago.

The broadcast media are equally guilty. Every night we get terms like "a grand" for a thousand or "fall guy" for a scapegoat being paraded in front of us. I recently heard Kirsty Wark use the phrase "from the get-go" rather than simply say "from the start", whilst another interviewer chose to use the American "gotten" for "have got".

Perhaps it’s the result of our increasingly globalised culture which seems obsessed with shortening everything to save time. Text messaging is a serial offender in that regard with its relentless emasculation of English grammar.

Even plain English can’t escape. We have had "coronated" rather than "crowned" being trotted out during the King’s Coronation together with "processioned" rather than "proceeded". Fail to keep up with the political slang and you will also struggle (I still have no idea what "virtue signalling" means).

I well remember in the 1990s the French complaining about Anglo-American words permeating their language and in their view diminishing it. In that context you could say there is a sense of déjà vu about what is now happening here.

That said, I’m not agin the use of words which have no real English equivalent but which nevertheless add to our communication skills. I can think of "dreich" or "schadenfreude" for starters. My personal favourite is the wonderfully alliterative "shilshul", which is Hebrew for diarrhoea. The real challenge is trying to work it into a conversation over dinner.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.

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Punch line

IN response to correspondence (Letters, November 20 & 21) on the subject of who Larry was and why he was so happy, I believe the simile may originate in 19th century New Zealand, where a boxer of the name Larry Foley won a sum of money for winning a boxing match, ergo, "happy as Larry". He was obviously as pleased as punch and I wonder what Judy had to say about it?

John G McMenemy, Milngavie.