ALISTER Jack has snubbed an invitation to give evidence to a Holyrood committee over his decision to block Scotland's gender recognition reforms despite insisting amending the Bill is up to the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Secretary was branded an "absolute disgrace" after he insisted it was not his job to appear before Holyrood's Equalities Committee.

Hundreds of trans rights protesters gathered outside the UK Government's Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh to vent their frustration at the Scottish Secretary using section 35 of the Scotland Act to prevent the reforms from becoming law.

Read more: Hundreds of trans rights protesters demand gender reforms

Under the plans, Scotland would remove the need for trans people to require a gender dysphoria diagnosis to obtain a gender recognition certificate with a move to a system of self-ID.

The legislation would also lower the age limit to 16.

But Mr Jack said the UK Government has moved to block the legislation becoming law over concerns it infringes of UK-wide legislation such as the Equalities Act.

UK ministers have also raised concerns about two parallel gender recognition systems being in operation across the UK, despite it being a devolved matter.

Mr Jack had been invited to give evidence to Holyrood's Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee, the cross-party panel of MSPs that scrutinised the gender reforms.

But he has confirmed he "won't be speaking to the Equalities Committee" because "my job is constitutional".

Instead, Mr Jack has suggested UK equalities minister Kemi Badenoch gvies evidecne in his place.

Read more: Shona Robison tells Alister Jack to 'immediately' halt blocking GRR

He has now also been invited to give evidence to Holyrood's Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee next Thursday on the constitutional ramifications of the section 35 order.

SNP MSP Emma Roddick said: “It is an absolute disgrace that Alister Jack is refusing to explain himself to the democratically elected parliament of Scotland – about why he has chosen to veto a Bill overwhelmingly passed by them.

“He clearly knows there is no grounds for a section 35 order and he has run out of ways to defend Westminster's full frontal attack on devolution.

“It is beyond question that he should appear before the Scottish Parliament to explain his Tory Government’s unprecedented attack on democracy.

“People across Scotland will be left with no other option than to conclude that the Secretary of State for Scotland is chicken. It turns out his offer to work together was nothing more than a cheap headline."

"Devolution is not about what the Tory UK Government decides is 'perfectly acceptable' law, it is about the clear-cut powers of the Scottish Parliament – perhaps the Tories should reflect on that.

"If the Tory UK government doesn't immediately revoke its section 35 order, then it is clear there has never been a more dangerous time for devolution or necessary time to become independent and escape Westminster control for good."

Read more: Shona Robison says UK 'has no showstopper' to block gender reforms

Greens equalities spokesperson, Maggie Chapman, said: "Alister Jack blocked gender recognition reform on entirely spurious political grounds. "When he was asked about it in Westminster his response was pathetic. He could not answer the most basic questions.

"The very least he can do is speak to the committee and try to explain this unprecedented decision."

"What we have seen from the Tories is a total disregard for devolution and our democracy. They have cynically smeared and attacked trans people in the most reactionary way possible. They are trying to use our trans siblings as a political pawn in their culture war."

The Scottish Secretary said the “ball is in (the Scottish Government’s) court”, suggesting it could “look at the legislation again” after using powers to halt the Bill from becoming law.

It comes as Shona Robison, the SNP Civil Justice Secretary, called on Mr Jack to "immediately revoke" the section 35 order, claiming Mr Jack’s announcement was “harmful to trans people, who have waited long enough for improvements to apply for a gender recognition certificate”.

Mr Jack rejected the appeal, insisting "this is democracy".

He said: “I’ve had to use section 35 because the legal advice I have says that citizens’ rights across the United Kingdom, including Scotland, are impacted by those adverse effects by this legislation, so that is why I’ve stopped it going for royal assent.”

It is the first time the provision of the Scotland Act has been used to block Scottish Parliament-approved legislation, and Mr Jack said he “didn’t take this decision at all lightly”.

He added: “I’m sorry that it involves gender and the trans community and they’re not part of my thinking at all.

“This is entirely the legal opinion, the constitutional situation, and a piece of legislation that has adverse impacts on other legislation within the UK.

“No more than that.”