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by Staff reporter
04 March 2022
SNP MP says party could be breaking law by discriminating against 'gender critical' activists

SNP MP says party could be breaking law by discriminating against 'gender critical' activists

The SNP has been accused of acting in a discriminatory manner after suspending a prominent activist known for her criticism of plans to reform Scotland's gender recognition law.

Former Aberdeen branch convenor Serena Arif had her membership of the party frozen at the end of last month after a complaint “from several sources” alleging that she had breached the party’s code of conduct.

However, in the email notifying her of the suspension, the SNP National Secretary, Lorna Finn, didn’t say what those complaints were or which of the rules had been broken.

Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry has now taken up Arif’s case. In a letter, seen by Holyrood, Cherry has asked Finn for more detail about the suspension and also suggested that the party is “ignoring complaints made by gender critical women about breaches of the party’s code of conduct whilst pursuing complaints against gender critical women”.

Cherry added: “As you must now be aware, there are a significant number of outstanding complaints from women across our party, including me, against members including senior parliamentarians, councillors, party employees and NEC members for clear breaches of the code of conduct, yet no action has been taken against any of these people.

"Certainly, none of the people I have complained about have been suspended pending investigation of my complaints. Indeed at least two of them recently passed vetting to stand as councillors and others continue to play senior roles in the party.

“I cannot understand why Serena should be held to a different standard than other party members and why complaints against her should be progressed with such vigour whilst those of many other women including me are ignored.

The QC warned Finn that applying a disciplinary process against one member, while not subjecting other activists to the process “looks very much like discrimination”.

In the correspondence, Cherry references the recent court case of Maya Forstater, a researcher who lost her job after saying that people cannot change their biological sex.

She initially lost her employment tribunal in 2019, but last year won an appeal, with a High Court judge ruling that her "gender-critical" beliefs fell under the Equalities Act.

Although it was an employment law case, Cherry says the ruling would also apply to membership organisations.

An SNP spokesman said: “We do not comment on internal matters.”

Cherry declined to comment.

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