Green members urge party not to deal with 'transphobic' SNP
In an open letter to Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, titled “trans solidarity”, 155 party members ask 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 accuses those who have raised concerns about reform of the Gender Recognition Act 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”, demanding the SNP takes “formal action” against its own members.
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”.
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 three Green Edinburgh councillors – Mary Campbell, Susan Rae and Claire Miller – 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 letter also claims the Scottish Government’s plans to change the law on prostitution – to criminalise those who buy sex, but not those who sell it – would “increase police violence against sex workers, decrease sex workers willingness to report violence to the police, and increase public hostility to sex workers”.
The members go on to demand that if talks take place, the Greens leaders need to force the SNP to commit to reforming trans healthcare to decrease waiting times and to move “beyond the current deadlock" in reforming the GRA.
They also want the SNP to “challenge the normalisation of transphobia in Scottish public society and conversation” and for the party to “clarify their lack of action towards members who continue to fall foul of their own description of what constitutes transphobia, and to commit to rectifying this with formal action taken against people who refuse to cease engaging in these hateful activities”.
They also say that policies of “morality and purity” target the rights of both trans people and “sex workers” and as a result, the SNP Government should halt its “client criminalisation model of sex work legislation” and repeal the 2007 Prostitution Act, which criminalises the sale of sex in public.
However, The Scotsman understands the letter contradicts internal polling in the Scottish Greens, which placed a green economic recovery, energy and a just transition, protecting Scotland’s environment, independence and fairer taxes as the key priorities for members in the talks.
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”.
Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater said: “We have consulted our members on the aspects of our manifesto which should be prioritised in the cooperation 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.”
An internal row about the potential conflict between women’s rights and the change to the GRA has engulfed the SNP in the past year, prompting Ms Sturgeon to film a video pleading with young and trans members not to quit her party.
Despite her intervention, many left to join the Scottish Greens, including signatories to the letter Teddy Hope, who had been the trans officer in the Out For Indy wing of the party, and new Edinburgh Rape Crisis chief executive Mridhul Wadhwa.
Meanwhile many women members of the party also left after accusing it of failing to recognise their concerns, with some joining Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party.
The Scottish Greens have also been rocked, losing one of their most prominent MSPs, Andy Wightman, in the last parliamentary session after he accused the party of “intolerance” on trans issues.
He revealed he had been threatened with disciplinary action and even expulsion if he had voted in favour of an amendment to the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences Bill), which sought to allow victims of sex crimes to be able to choose the sex, rather than the gender, of the person who examines them.
At the time he resigned from the party, Mr Wightman said: “It has become evident to me that the sort of open minded public engagement I would like to see take place on this topic is incompatible with a party that has become censorious of any deviation of an agreed line.”
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