Readdrs' letters: Alister Jack’s section 35 nuclear option unjustifiable

​Alister Jack used a section 35 order to block gender legislation​Alister Jack used a section 35 order to block gender legislation
​Alister Jack used a section 35 order to block gender legislation
The unprecedented use of a section 35 order by the UK Government’s Alister Jack in regard to Holyrood’s GRR legislation needs examination in its cruel choice to use trans people in a cultural and constitutional war. There is now increasing hate against this tiny group, only 0.5 per cent of the population.

Alister Jack used executive power to ride across the elected representatives voted into Holyrood. The GRR legislation was passed legally within devolved powers after much scrutiny and debate, by a cross-party majority of MSPs. This cannot be denied, no matter what your views. When asked to come to Holyrood to answer questions Mr Jack said it was not his job. He also had difficulty in explaining what a GRC was. This is farcical and sinister. He deals with… constitutional affairs.

The three grounds of the UK Government’s objection to the legislation are administration difficulties (small and likely minimal); increase in fraud (most applicants likely to be genuine with small numbers and the Chief Constable can monitor applications and those with GRC can be excluded from safe spaces); the Equality Act (but this does not allow discrimination and those with malign intent can be excluded).

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Similar legislation has been passed in a lot of other countries including Ireland and Norway and it is considered standard. The UK recognises these laws in other countries and Theresa May supported self-identification as Prime Minister. GRR legislation relates to Gender Recognition Certificates (GRC) – affecting birth and death certificates particularly. It does not change the situation and safeguards in same-sex spaces or prisons at all.

There is apparently no justification for the nuclear option of S35. The UK’s action seems more about stopping Holyrood’s independence and legislating power, cynically targeting a vulnerable group to do so. Mr Jack’s action can be repeated with any legislation he feels like.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh

Wrong note

I was bemused by Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group's casting of Jesus in their version of Jesus Christ Superstar as non-binary, i.e. identifying as neither male nor female (News, 26 January). Also with Judas as female. What point is all that making? Is it historical revisionism or just a bit of fun?

In Jesus’ time, sexuality was kept strictly inside the straightjacket of Judaism. Jesus was certainly male but not bisexual. The Gospels make clear that Jesus was in love with his youngest disciple John. He allowed John to rest his head on his breast at meals, indicating that they were reclining in the Roman fashion.

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Homosexual or not, to Jesus this did not matter as he expected the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven where the inhabitants would be sexless.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Gong show

So ex-pat, Alan Cumming hands back his 2009-awarded OBE citing “toxicity of empire”. Really? Or is this all about the word “British”, not “Empire”? Has Scots-American Cumming belatedly twigged that the SNP, the party he bigs up from the comfort of his Manhattan home, is likely more concerned with the “British” part of his OBE?

Leaving aside what may or may not be going on in Cumming’s head, the bigger picture is surely that it’s time for the honours system, while retaining 'British', to ditch the anachronistic and contextually inaccurate word “Empire” for something more appropriate – such as “Excellence”

Martin Redfern, Melrose

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