I AM writing in response to Neale Hanvey’s column in Monday’s paper (LGB people are now facing a bigger threat than Section 28), as someone who has been campaigning for LGBT equality in Scotland since the 1980s. In 87/88 I was a member of the small group who organised the first campaign against Section 28, including the Lark in the Park events that Neale Hanvey mentions.

The following year, I was one of a handful of gay men who set up Scotland’s ACT UP group to campaign against HIV discrimination. A couple of years after that, the late, great campaigner Derek Ogg and I successfully lobbied for the first step, since Section 28, towards repeal of Scotland’s various anti-gay laws. I have been lucky to work with great people, then and in the decades since.

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Mr Hanvey was not involved in running any of those campaigns. It is galling, therefore, to read his claim that the campaigns of those years have somehow been betrayed by trans equality campaigning now. The opposite is the case. Those of us who organised the campaigns of the 80s and 90s can see clearly that the lies told then about lesbians and gay men are being repeated now about trans people.

For example, Mr Hanvey claims that young lesbian and gay people are being pressured or manipulated into defining as trans instead.

That is complete nonsense. It is a repeat of the 1990s lie that claimed our campaigns to repeal Section 28 and equalise the gay age of consent at 16 were so that older gay men could “recruit” teenage boys and turn them gay. The clear understanding that most LGB people have of the true nature of the anti-trans culture war is one reason why, for example, a recent poll found that 97% of lesbians under 25 support trans equality.

As an openly gay MP in the 2020s, Mr Hanvey has benefited from a ladder to equality built over decades, rung by rung, by generations of activists. It is disgraceful that now that he is reaching the top of that ladder, he is kicking down on the trans people who are still climbing it below him.

Tim Hopkins
Director, Equality Network

I DESPAIR at the bold but unjustified headline from your regular columnist Steph Paton “No supporter of indy should want Scotland to abandon GRR Bill” (Dec 11).

As an active supporter of indy for the past 50 years I certainly want to abandon, or at the very least amend, the GRR bill. There are thousands like me still SNP members (just) and thousands more who have left the SNP scunnered with the party’s recent policies and performance who would like nothing more than to take GRR back to the drawing board. We see 50 years of hard work being reversed in the past three years.

Steph and other supporters of GRR need to take some time to actually read the Scotland Act, passed when Steph was a child. It was conceived by a rather clever Labour lawyer by the name of Donald Dewar (yes, the guy with the statue in Glasgow city centre). The Scotland Act is designed and built to limit the powers of the Scottish Parliament. We may not like this fact, but it is a fact. If Steph and other supporters of GRR (including our MSPs) want to change this FACT, we simply need them to act in a manner that convinces the majority of voters that independence will improve our lives.

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Opinion poll after opinion poll has found that by a large margin the Green/SNP (Green first) gender recognition legislation is unpopular with a very large majority of the electorate. Steph – you need to read the room. A bungled, possibly well-meaning attempt to short-circuit a legal process for a tiny majority of that electorate has sadly become conflated in the minds of a majority of the electorate with some very unpopular issues including sex offenders, rapists, mixed-sex toilets and prison policies.

In a short time there will be a UK General Election. The public will then have an opportunity to pass judgement on the SNP’s performance in recent years. Sadly the result will probably not be a pretty one. The very last thing needed is a continuing, pointless, expensive legal battle being fought in the courts, with no prospect of success, in a futile attempt to defend a policy that is, to say the very least, unpopular.

When you are in a hole, and that hole is rapidly filling with water, the best idea is usually to stop digging and look for a safe way out.

Brian Lawson

THE GRR Bill was a dangerous nonsense bill that should never have seen the light of day. The Scottish Government were told in 2018 it was incompatible with the Equality Act, so why did they spend five years of parliamentary time and huge amount of taxpayers’ money on it? Previously the named person bill was thrown out by the Supreme Court as incompatible with basic human rights. The problem lies in Holyrood and the lack of a revising chamber to sift out flawed or over-reaching legislation – we shouldn’t be relying on the courts to save us from our own MSPs.

Mandy Neeson
via thenational.scot