Patrick Harvie criticises 'wild overreactions' to Lorna Slater trans comments
Scottish Greens co-leader comments on row
Calls for Lorna Slater's removal as a Scottish Government minister are a "wild overreaction", Patrick Harvie has said.
Speaking at his party's council elections manifesto launch, Harvie defended his Scottish Greens co-leader over comments she made in a weekend interview.
At the same event, she said sought to clarify the remarks reported in the Herald on Sunday.
The newspaper reported that Slater criticised the reporting of issues around transgender rights, saying: "We wouldn’t put balance on the question of racism or antisemitism, but we allow this fictional notion of balance when it comes to anti-trans. The whole thing is disgusting."
Slater further claimed that US right-wing groups are funding organisations critical of planned legal reforms.
The Scottish Government's planned reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) would reduce the time a person has to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months, followed by another three-month reflection period. It would also remove the need for medical diagnosis and reduce the age at which such applications can be made to 16, with additional safeguards in place for this age group.
Supporters say this will provide a fairer system for trans people and improve their welfare, but opponents argue that a switch to self-ID could introduce challenges over the provision of single-sex spaces, as protected under the Equality Act, potentially creating risks for the safety of women and girls.
Slater also said she feared for the safety of Green trans candidates in the council elections, saying the "gentle, hardworking women are being portrayed as if they’re inherently dangerous".
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been asked to consider whether Slater's comments may constitute a breach of the ministerial code. Some, including Conservative MSP Brian Whittle, questioned her fitness for the post of Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity.
Last night the Scottish Government said: "There is broad consensus that transphobia should have no place in modern Scotland.
"Ms Slater was explicitly and solely referring to transphobes when she said some people were trying to portray trans women as if they were all ‘inherently dangerous’ and sought to make the point that people who espouse such views should not be given a platform to do so.
"At no point did she suggest that anyone engaging in respectful discussion about reform of the GRA should be excluded from the debate."
At a pre-arranged party event today, she said: "There’s broad consensus in Scotland that there is no place for transphobia.
"We should not be giving platforms to bigotry and hatred.
"Of course we’re looking forward to respectful discussion around the GRA reform and that’s what we’ll be doing in parliament."
Defending Slater's ministerial role, Harvie said he had "seen some rather wild overreactions" to her comments: "Lorna was very clear that transphobia is unacceptable and compared it to other forms of prejudice, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and if we do want to have the respectful debate that has been called for then we should recognise that transphobia doesn’t have a place in it."
He went on: "Sadly there are always a few people who are openly spreading prejudice and causing confusion, so that’s happened on pretty much every other aspect of the fight for equality and human rights over the years.
"It’s happening again, we should face down genuine prejudice and have a respectful debate with those who simply want to understand more about the topic."