Green councillors brand SNP as 'transphobic' in letter on government talks

Three Scottish Green councillors on Edinburgh City Council have accused the SNP of “transphobia” in an open letter to their party leaders raising questions about a potential deal with the Scottish Government.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 4:55 am

Signing as councillors rather than as individual party members, Claire Miller, Mary Campbell and Susan Rae have joined with 152 other Scottish Greens to write to co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater asking why their party should “entertain the idea of entering any sort of deal with a party that has little to no respect for trans people”.

The letter, titled “Trans Solidarity”, accuses people who have raised concerns about reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) of being “right-wing bigots” funded by the “American religious far right” and says SNP representatives “at every level” have “stoked the fire of trans panic in Scotland”.

The letter also demands the Scottish Government repeal the Prostitution Act of 2007, which criminalised the sale of sex in public because of an “over-prevalence of the trans community amongst people who sell sex, due to housing issues, lack of employment possibilities and social discrimination”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Scottish Green leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater.

Talks between Nicola Sturgeon and the Green co-leaders on a formal co-operation agreement are due to start over the parliamentary summer recess, but any pact will need to win the support of Green party members.

However, the hostility in the letter towards the SNP could, say party insiders, derail the talks before they even officially begin.

The letter, whose signatories include former SNP members as well as the three Green Edinburgh councillors and one Glasgow councillor, Kim Long, says despite defections to the Alba party earlier this year, “gender critical” people are in “every level” of the SNP from “councillor to MSP and MP”.

It adds: “We are now at dangerous levels of radicalisation on this issue. It is believed to this date that the SNP has not held a single member to account for transphobia despite multiple members breaking [the] code of conduct.

"So we ask why would we entertain the idea of entering any sort of deal with a party that has little to no respect for trans people?”

The Evening News asked the three Edinburgh councillors if they included constituents with concerns about reform of the GRA as “right-wing bigots”.

Cllr Campbell said she had deleted the Evening News’ enquiry email as it regarded party business rather than council business – despite signing the letter as a councillor.

Cllr Miller responded on both her and Cllr Rae’s behalf and said the party would make an official statement.

Ms Slater said: “We have consulted our members on the aspects of our manifesto which should be prioritised in the co-operation talks.

"Equalities and trans rights were highlighted alongside many other areas including economic recovery, tackling the climate emergency and restoring Scotland’s natural environment. We look forward to discussing a wide range of issues with the government and reaching agreement on a programme which delivers a fairer, greener Scotland.”

The SNP declined to comment on the letter, but said talks with the Scottish Greens “continue and will do so into and through the summer recess and we won’t be giving a running commentary”.

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.