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by Staff reporter
06 February 2023
Nicola Sturgeon again refuses to say the gender of rapist Isla Bryson

Isla Bryson outside Glasgow High Court

Nicola Sturgeon again refuses to say the gender of rapist Isla Bryson

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted there was “absolutely nothing” to suggest the Scottish Prison Service would have allowed Isla Bryson to remain in a women’s prison, even without her intervention.

Bryson was convicted of raping two women last month and was originally sent to Cornton Vale to await sentencing after identifying as transgender, before being moved to the male prison estate.

The First Minister was also pressed repeatedly on whether she believed Bryson was a man or a woman.

She said the “relevant factor” was not gender but the crime when it comes to Scottish Prison Service (SPS) policy. She added: “She [Bryson] regards herself as a woman. I regard the individual as a rapist.”

The First Minister said the SPS had not reached a “final decision” on where Bryson should be held when her views were made clear.

The SPS carries out such individual risk assessments for all trans individuals entering custody or seeking a transfer after imprisonment.

Ministers last week announced that no prisoner with a history of violence against women would be housed in the female prison estate.

Sturgeon said: “There is absolutely nothing… to suggest that the risk-based assessment process wouldn’t have reached the point that the clarification of policy we made last Sunday would have taken them to.”

Sturgeon went on to defend the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, adding that “the actions of an individual or a very small minority” should not be used to undermine the rights of trans people.

Asked whether those within her party who disagreed with the government’s bill should stand down, she said: “I don’t think anybody should be prevented from standing because they disagree with party policy on one particular issue.”

Her comments come after her education secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, suggested elected represented who voted against manifesto commitments may wish to consider “whether it is comfortable” to stay.

But SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn called for different views within the party on gender reforms to be “respected like any other conscience issue”.

On the UK Government’s section 35 order which has prevented the bill from becoming law, she said it was still her government’s intention to mount a legal challenge.

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