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Alba calls in police after candidate's age of consent claim provokes angry response

George Clerk/iStock

Alba calls in police after candidate's age of consent claim provokes angry response

Alex Salmond has complained to the police about threats made to one of his candidates following rcomments she made at the party’s women’s conference.

Over the weekend, Margaret Lynch, who’s standing for Alba in Central Scotland, was reported to have told a summit of the party’s female members that two LGBT+ organisations in Scotland want to reduce the age of consent to ten.

Both organisations immediately rubbished the claim. Stonewall said it was  “categorically untrue” and “dangerous and irresponsible”.

The claim attributed to Lynch is seemingly rooted in the Feminist Declaration, produced by the Women’s Rights Caucus in response to a declaration adopted by UN’s  Commission on the Status of Women.

One of the groups who supported and shared the 16 page document is the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, known as ILGA World.

It includes a passage that supports moves to: “End the criminalization and stigmatization of adolescents’ sexuality, and ensure and promote a positive approach to young people’s and adolescents’ sexuality that enables, recognizes, and respects their agency to make informed and independent decisions on matters concerning their bodily autonomy, pleasure and fundamental freedoms.”

Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland are listed as members of ILGA World.

However, responding to reports of Lynch’s comments, ILGA World said their position was “clear and a matter of public record.” 

“ILGA World categorically, and in no uncertain terms, does not advocate to eliminate or lower the general age of consent, nor supports paedophilia in any way, shape or form - and never has.

"Our position on this is clear and a matter of public record. These spurious claims, as old as homophobia itself, are dangerous and irresponsible, and we urge those making or sharing them, to stop.

“ILGA World calls for the strengthening of the rights of children and young people, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and condemns all forms of abuse (including sexual abuse), coercion, and exploitation of children and young people.”
In a joint statement, Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, and Colin Macfarlane, Director Stonewall Scotland and Northern Ireland, called on Lynch to retract her comments. 

They said: “What she said was not only untrue, but it was also a wilful, bad faith interpretation made for the sole purpose of trying to smear LGBT+ organisations. Her allegations have been refuted in the strongest terms by ILGA World. 

“In making these accusations, she is repeating deeply harmful myths about LGBT+ people as paedophiles and sexual predators. It’s the oldest trick in the homophobic book of lies. This kind of language has a long, dark history of being used to paint us as threats to children and stop us from being treated as equal citizens. These myths are used to bully, intimidate and silence LGBT+ people."

The tweet reporting Lynch’s comment has been deleted. 

In a statement, Alba said the Twitter report of the candidate's comments “did not in any event accurately reflect the concerns expressed by Ms Lynch about two Scottish based organisations among others supporting an international group that have openly advocated decriminalisation around adolescent sexual behaviour.”

They also said they have now reported a number tweets suggesting physical threats against their female candidates to the police. 

One tweet from a Green candidate, reads: "Have these queerphobic Alba posts spurred my hero arc where I now spend 1 whole year in isolation getting super buff and then I just go around punching fuck out of queerphobes?  Stay tuned." 

Alex Salmond said women participating in the Alba conference were "entitled to do so without being subjected to Twitter pile-ons or even worse threats of violence."

"Thus, we are drawing the line," he added. "People who threaten our women candidates will be held to account. Men who put at risk women's jobs and livelihoods will be faced down. Name-calling of Alba women by male SNP MPs and candidates will be challenged, and media who fan the flames of this disturbing behaviour will be reported to the appropriate regulator. 
"In an election campaign people often do and say foolish things but we shall not have our female candidates bullied or threatened.

"That stops right now. Apart from anything else Margaret Lynch was defending the rights of women in Scottish society while these keyboard warriors were in nappies.

"The irony of people advocating hate speech legislation while simultaneously resorting themselves to physical threat and bullying behaviour is substantial. 
"Let me be clear. As the First Minister who introduced equal marriage in Scotland, I would never tolerate any homophobic behaviour.   
"Women are entitled to raise concerns without being targeted in this fashion. If people wish to disagree then by all means go ahead. But our candidates are entitled to speak their minds at safe space events without being traduced or intimidated. ALBA will protect their right to do so.  ILGA World has issued a statement providing clarification which I welcome.” 

Police Scotland said they had received a complaint from the party which was “being assessed."

A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said: "The Scottish Greens have a zero-tolerance approach to violence. This tweet was unacceptable, and we instructed the member to remove it, which has now been done. This matter will now be dealt with through our internal complaints and conduct process.

"The party also has a zero-tolerance approach to homophobia, including dangerous and sinister conspiracy theories which associate LGBT+ people with paedophilia. This is the worst kind of hate speech, so it is shocking to see the Alba party defend it."

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