Humza Yousaf has been accused of “squandering” taxpayers’ money on a legal showdown with the UK Government over controversial gender laws which kicks off today.
The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed by Holyrood last year, but UK ministers blocked it due to fears of the impact on equality laws.
The Scottish Government is challenging the decision at Edinburgh’s Court of Session.
But Scottish Tory deputy leader Meghan Gallacher accused Mr Yousaf of “choosing to squander taxpayers’ money”.
She told The Telegraph: “It’s disappointing that the SNP-Greens are determined to double down on their reckless gender self-ID Bill, when a majority of Scots firmly oppose it.
“The public recognises – as women’s groups and many of my Scottish Conservative colleagues warned last year – that this legislation compromises the safety of women and girls.
“Those legitimate concerns were arrogantly dismissed by the Nationalist coalition – as well as Labour and the Liberal Democrats – who shamefully whipped their MSPs to vote for it.”
The challenge comes after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack utilised never-before-used powers of the Scotland Act – the legislation which established the Scottish Parliament – to halt the gender laws which sought to simplify the process for trans people to self-identify and obtain and gender recognition certificate.
Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Mr Yousaf confirmed the legal bid in April.
He insisted it was necessary to “defend the Scottish Parliament’s democracy from the Westminster veto”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said at the time his ministers had taken “careful and considered” advice before blocking the legislation, with concerns about how it impacted the reserved Equalities Act.
Judge Lady Haldane will preside over the full hearing, beginning on Tuesday, and running for three further consecutive days.
The Scottish Government will set out its argument first over the first day-and-a-half, with the UK Government set to present its response up to day three.
According to a 22-page petition published by the Scottish Government in April, officials have challenged the UK Government’s order on four counts that Mr Jack made a “material error of law”, that his concerns about the safeguards in the Bill were “irrelevant” to the order’s making and that his reasons were “inadequate”, which would make the order “unlawful”.
Scottish Government lawyers also described the Scottish Secretary’s decision as “irrational” in the official documents.
However, legal arguments published by Lord Stewart, Advocate General for Scotland, last month disputed the claim Mr Jack acted “irrationally”, stating the Scottish Bill “modifies the law as it applies to the reserved matters”.
It added: “In making the order, the Secretary of State did not act irrationally on the basis of evidence which was before him or by taking into account any irrelevant considerations.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The judicial review proceedings are now before the court. It would not be appropriate to comment on live legal proceedings.”