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by Tom Freeman
17 April 2019
Leaked SNP direct messages reveal split over trans rights

LGBT flag - PA

Leaked SNP direct messages reveal split over trans rights

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s defence of the rights of transgender people has been criticised by three female SNP MSPs in a leaked private correspondence.

An image of the thread from February was posted by former SNP staffer Jordon Henderson on twitter, who described it as “deeply disturbing”.

In it, Ash Denham, Gillian Martin and Ruth Maguire, who convenes the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, expressed frustration with the FM in a series of direct messages on Twitter.

Maguire quoted a tweet by Emma Ritch, director of feminist campaign group Engender Scotland, backing a quote by Sturgeon in which she said she didn’t see transgender rights as “a threat to me as a woman or to my feminism”.

Ritch praised the “positive feminist analysis”, to which Maguire commented “FFS”.

Martin said: “FM a bit out of step with feelings of her group”.

The leaked comments caused outrage among campaigners, who called the comments "transphobic".

Three SNP MPs last night were among those to tweet support for trans rights.

Mhairi Black tweeted: “Trans rights are human rights. It’s that simple,” with similar messages from Stewart McDonald and Angela Crawley, alongside a ‘Trans Ally’ logo.

The row over proposed amendments to the Gender Recognition Act has becoming increasingly febrile after some women raised concerns that allowing trans people to self-identify might put women in danger.

The only MSP to do this publicly is the SNP’s Joan McAlpine, convener of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee.

The committee rejected plans to alter the Census to include a third option of non-binary in the question on sex.

McAlpine said including the third option would conflate sex and gender. She tweeted that the “definition of female is being replaced with a concept of "gender identity" based on 1950s sexist stereotypes”.

Responding to criticism, McAlpine tweeted it would “not stop me speaking up if something looks wrong. Huge numbers of folk in @theSNP also agree with me.”

Maguire later praised McAlpine in the Holyrood chamber for “raising a matter that many of us have been uncomfortable about raising”.

Responding to the leak, an SNP spokesperson said: “The SNP supports trans rights and women’s rights as part of our firm commitment to human rights and equality.

“Trans people must be able to live their lives without facing unnecessary barriers and discrimination.

“It is important any discussion on trans rights and women’s rights is conducted respectfully.”

Lib Dem Alex Cole-Hamilton, deputy convener of the Equality and Human Rights committee, said: “Urgent clarification is required from our convener, Ruth Maguire, as regards her position on this matter. Our committee cannot exclude any protected group in its struggle to push for equality.”

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