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by Kirsteen Paterson
16 May 2024
Scottish Greens expel gender rebels deemed ‘threat’ to trans members

Scottish Green MSPs in Holyrood | Alamy

Scottish Greens expel gender rebels deemed ‘threat’ to trans members

Rebel members have been kicked out of the Scottish Green Party for declaring that “sex is a biological reality”.

Signatories to the Scottish Green Declaration for Women’s Sex-Based Rights were accused of making the party less safe for trans and non-binary members in an official complaint.

Now several members have been expelled with immediate effect by the ruling Conduct and Complaints Committee (CCC).

They include long-standing activists who have spent decades campaigning for Green politics.

In documents seen by Holyrood, a total of 13 Scottish Green Party members were accused of breaching its code of conduct by signing the declaration, which was published online in November last year.

The eight-point statement stated that “sex is a biological reality”, asserted that women have a right to maintain the sex-based protections enshrined in the Equality Act, said lesbians are same-sex attracted and declared that “women and girls have the right to discuss policies which affect them without being abused, harassed or intimidated”.

It stated: “We know that globally women, as a sex, are disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental degradation, and that their empowerment is essential to our work as environmentalists.”

The declaration was signed by current and former Scottish Green Party members and supporters.

A total of 13 activists who put their names to it, including office bearers and other persons “of seniority”, were reported to the CCC, triggering a disciplinary investigation.

Complainants, including the then-co-convenors of LGBTQI+ group the Rainbow Greens and a co-convenor of its Women’s Network, said the signatories had failed to “maintain political discipline” and broken rules that prohibit the undermining of party policy, bullying, “behaviours that constitute prejudice based on sexual orientation or gender identity” and “behaviours that constitute a threat to others”.

Now officials of the party, which since 2018 has had a rule which states that “trans-exclusionary individuals of any kind are not welcome as members”, have issued letters of expulsion.

All of the group have been expelled.

One of those to have his membership cancelled is David Jardine, who first became involved with the Greens in 1983. The 72-year-old, who rejects allegations of transphobia, said: “It’s quite clear that the party didn’t read the declaration very carefully or closely. All that it did was assert the right of women to advocate for a series of eight beliefs that they had. It wasn’t a demand that the party overturn policy, merely that people be allowed to speak without being harassed and pressurised.

“Some of the women who signed the declaration did so anonymously. Some were members who didn’t want to face a disciplinary, others were worried about their safety or their work.”

Another, grandfather Topher Dawson, has been a member for a decade. He said: “They seem to think that anyone who signed the declaration is transphobic. I have friends who are transgender women. It’s simply that to stretch the definition of ‘woman’ to include people who are not women makes a mockery of all the sex-based protections that have been hard-won by women, for women.

“There is no space to even discuss it. Anyone who even attempts to raise the subject is hounded out.”

Dawson compared the party’s tolerance for disagreement on the issue of sex-based rights to its position on independence. While the Greens are a pro-independence party, Dawson said there is acceptance within the membership of diverging opinion. He said: “It’s quite acceptable within the party to express a unionist view, no one will give you a hard time for it.

“I was proposing that being gender-critical ought to be an acceptable position within the party, even though lots of people would disagree with that position.

“It’s not the raison d’etre of the party. If I was a climate denialist that would be unacceptable – that issue is the reason for the party’s existence. But for this issue, it shouldn’t be make or break but it has become that way.”

One of those who submitted the complaint, Ryan Donachie, has since left the Scottish Greens. In a statement on X, he said the “fundamental mistreatment of ordinary members” by the party was “intolerable” and suggested his resignation could “act as a wake-up call to our leaders and underline the crisis in confidence that many members have in the direction we are currently being taken in”.

The document, in which MSP Ross Greer is cited as a witness, states that: “Given the serious nature of this complaint and the serious breaches of the SGP CoC [Code of Conduct], the only appropriate action to be taken on this occasion is that all current members who are signatories on the ‘declaration’ MUST be removed from the party with immediate effect, to ensure the safety of all trans and non-binary members of the SGP.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Green Party said: “We can confirm disciplinary action was taken against 13 individuals over a breach of our membership policy, which has resulted in their immediate expulsion from the party. The welfare of all our members is our primary concern. The CCC process found that the members were in breach of our code of conduct. 

“Next month is Pride month and we hope this decisive action will send a clear message that we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community now and forever.”

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