Reders' letters: Gender Reform Bill is a progressive move

Susan Dalgety writes about the progress of the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill and what it demonstrates about the Scottish Parliament (Scotsman, November 5).

Campaigners backing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill outside the Scottish Parliament
Campaigners backing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill outside the Scottish Parliament

The Parliament has previously passed progressive legislation on LGBT equality, including repeal of section 28 and equal marriage.

In those cases, some people campaigned to stop the legislation because they fundamentally opposed it. Others were concerned about possible unintended consequences, with that concern fuelled in part by some lack of knowledge about LGBT people and our lives, and also about what the legislation would and would not do.

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The Parliament, though, looked in detail at the evidence and decided accordingly. That is exactly what it has been doing with the GRR Bill.

It heard from those who run services, that the bill will not affect the treatment of trans people or of anyone else in the health service, in sport, in prisons or in single-sex services.

This bill is one of the most debated and consulted on in the history of the Parliament, with public debate now going on for five years.

As part of that debate it is crucial to take note of the evidence of people whose lives will actually be affected by the bill - in this case, trans people - and of those who are able to make clear what will not be affected by it.

The Equality Network welcomes that the Parliament has considered the evidence and has approved the general principles of the bill.

We look forward to debate on potential amendments, and to the bill then adding to the Parliament's record of progressive legislation on equality and human rights.

Tim Hopkins, Equality Network, Edinburgh

Energy urgency

I was surprised to read in Rebecca McCurdy's article (Scotsman, November 5) that a coalition of environmental groups are urging Nicola Sturgeon to use her appearance at COP27 to act on reducing emissions in Scotland.

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Achieving net zero emissions in Scotland from the energy sector will not be possible without the UK government de-carbonising the national electricity grid, which will mean substantially increasing the capacity of nuclear generating plants.

It may be better if Ms Sturgeon urgently speaks to the UK government to reduce emissions. This may be difficult for her, as she has the mistaken belief that net zero can be achieved using renewable sources of energy only.

What is particularly worrying is that the Scottish Government do not appear to have energy experts in the Scottish Office who would be in a position to advise them that their energy policy will not provide an electricity system to give "security, sustainability and affordability."

The price of electricity has reached its highest level since 1926 in real terms, and pursuing a policy of renewable sources only will certainly increase the prices beyond what is affordable.

I hope that the Scottish Government and opposition parties at Holyrood listen to energy experts and take appropriate action before it is too late.

C Scott, Edinburgh

A cute accent

Congratulations to The Scotsman for publishing Catherine Wylie’s excellent piece on the SuttonTrust’s Report about how the accents of almost half of employees in British workplaces are singled out for criticism (November 3).

In the Report’s recommendations, it comments: “it is normal for humans to have stereotypical associations with accents”.

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This assertion is quite inaccurate, unless it is to be taken to refer only to the associations of a certain section of the population of Britain, and in any case it still misses the key point.

In Britain as a whole, there is a hierarchy of accents based on social status and social class. This has been true since the Norman conquest.

The convoluted diphthongs and triphthongs of so-called Received Pronunciation, BBC English and King’s English are the speech sounds of a dominant class, pure and simple.The speech of the rest of the population is not merely stereotyped, it is positively disparaged or at best patronised. I know of no country other than Britain in which the speech sounds of the majority of the population are so regarded.

Over the centuries, many people have felt they had no alternative but to learn some version of these dominant forms of speech.

It is long past time that the tortured vowels of these bizarre forms of speech should be dislodged from their positions of social dominance, and that we joined the rest of the world where a wide range of speech forms and dialects are regarded as having equal standing.

Colin Kirkwood, Edinburgh

Royal concern

I don’t normally write letters about members of the royal family, but the recent revelations of Prince Harry on various important issues for him reveal a young man with a long history of mental health disorder following his mother’s tragic death.

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He was just 12 years old when he and his brother William had to walk behind the hearse bearing his mother’s body, in front of thousands of onlookers. How many children could do that without suffering immensely, just wanting to be alone with their grief?

He also felt a fierce anger about the way his mother was hounded to her death by the press. In the years following her death, whenever he embarked on royal duties he felt severe anxiety, and experienced panic attacks.

I worked as a psychiatric nurse for twenty years, so I have first-hand experience of the effects of grief on vulnerable people.

Harry’s royal status did not protect him or offer solace. When a photographer captures him unawares his facial expression is often bleak.

We all have moments when an emotional memory from the past is triggered by an event in the present. I hope people can look beyond Harry’s royal status to see his inner child, who will never forget that long, sad walk in 1997.

Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry

Football talk

Can someone explain why at a Cove Rangers vs Queens Park match, or for that matter any match with Hearts, BBC Scotland reporters are quick to "apologise" for the bad language from the crowd.

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Yet when either half of the Old Firm play anyone - or even worse, each other - they fail to hear their fans turn the air every colour of the rainbow, judging by their lack of judgemental comment.An article concerning Old Firm Tinnitus is certainly overdue in The Lancet - or perhaps this comes under Selective Auditory Attention?

Mark Boyle, Johnstone

Shared parenting

In your Scottish Legal Review 2022 (Scotman, November 4) Kirsty McLuckie paints a grim picture of the crisis in the Scottish legal aid system.

Shared Parenting Scotland has been warning about legal aid deserts for several years.

We know from our caseload that an increasing number of low-income parents in contact and residence cases feel they have no choice but to represent themselves.

They either can't find a legal aid solicitor at all or don’t qualify for legal aid because their resources are a few pounds above the eligibility limit. Their efforts at representing themselves get a mixed response in court.

It is entirely unsatisfactory for the children affected by these cases that important decisions are conducted in a make do and mend system.

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At Shared Parenting Scotland we advocate a radical move away from our slow, unpredictable and inconsistent adversarial system.

Our own efforts through the New Ways For Families training programme are aimed at equipping separated parents to put the long-term welfare of their children ahead of short-term point scoring.

The priority for scarce Legal Aid resources should be to help separating parents reach agreement and solve their problems, not extend the fighting.

Ian Maxwell, Shared Parenting Scotland

Poetry please

I would like to give my thanks to Mr McCall Smith for the beautiful words in the poem in the chapter of 44 Scotland Street (Scotsman, November 4).

As another Christmas approaches without my beloved wife, the poem conveys so much of what I should have said but never did or at least as much as I should have. Thank you again.

I know Mr McCall Smith has finished this period in the story of 44 Scotland Street, but may I say that I hope Bertie and Ranald prevail and Olive and Pansy get their come uppance

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James Thompson, Dunbar

The Scexiteers

The difference between the Scottish nationalists wanting out of the UK at all costs and Brexiteers who wanted out of Europe at all costs has now narrowed to the point that a cigarette paper could not be placed between them.

Why, then, the squeals of outrage from some nationalists for being called Scexiteers? They are happy to label those who wanted out of the EU as Brexiteers.

In particular, the methods of attack against those with whom they disagree is quite startlingly and shrilly similar in both groups.

I voted to remain in Europe and much as I resented it, my side lost in a fairly conducted referendum.

If a second break-up-the UK vote is ever forced on us I will again unhesitatingly vote to remain part of the UK. I doubt it very much, but if my side should lose I would accept that also.

It is galling and hypocritical in the extreme to hear the nationalists continually complain about Scottish democracy being denied.

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The will of the people was shown in 2014. Why cannot they accept defeat as in 2016 I and close to a million plus other Scots accepted ours on Brexit?

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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