Patrick Harvie retweeted the pro-independence blog A Thousand Flowers, which had posted an article declaring Joan McAlpine as its “Weekly W****R” for her views on the rights of women and transgender people.
Mr Harvie was deluged with outraged responses on Twitter after sharing the tweet linking to the blog, which read: “If the SNP wants to be a safe and supportive place for trans and gender non conforming people, they have to squarely take on those trying to prevent trans people having the same rights as anyone else“ with a photo of Ms McAlpine on which a badge with the words “Weekly W****R” had been photo-shopped.
Susan Sinclair who writes the feminist blog Scottish Women, tweeted: “Good grief! I’m horrified that a politician @patrickharvie could ever retweet this vile abusive blog about another politician @JoanMcAlpine. Surely this goes against the code of conduct expected from our parliamentarians @ScotParl?” While forwomen.scot - a new women’s and girls rights group - said: “Highly inappropriate for @patrickharvie to RT an offensive misogynistic hatchet job on a colleague.”
Other Twitter users suggested reporting Mr Harvie to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for breaching the MSPs code of conduct which states: “members must treat other MSPs and the staff of other MSPs with courtesy and respect.”
Mr Harvie had also previously appeared to question the online abuse Ms McAlpine had received when he said: “there is a serious debate to be had about such “abuse” but we can’t have it if people react with outrage to complaints from anti-trans campaigners but say nothing of the horrific wave of transphobic hostility, prejudice and violence that’s destroying people’s everyday lives”.
At the time Ms McAlpine responded: “Male leader of the Green Party in Scotland there, pinning his colours firmly to the “she was asking for it” mast. Reminder: I shared comments from MTF (male to female) trans activists who called me trash and justified violence against women who disagree with them.”
Today Mr Harvie said his original tweet about the abuse Ms McAlpine had received was a specific response to another comment by Scottish Conservative Murdo Fraser, who “has a long track record of voting against equality.”
He added: “Like most women’s and feminist organisations the Scottish Greens unequivocally support women’s rights and trans rights, a position that was unanimously adopted by our conference last year.
“It’s disappointing that Joan McAlpine and a few others in the SNP have promoted anti-trans rhetoric in recent months, and apparently want to roll back trans people’s equality and human rights. Those attitudes and actions should be challenged, robustly but without abuse.”
He did not respond when asked if he thought the word "w****r" was a form of abuse.
Ms McAlpine said: "Patrick Harvie should be ashamed of trying to justify the online abuse of women and indulging in it himself. Women are concerned their rights to privacy, fairness and dignity and safety are affected by proposals which means males can legally become women without surgery, medical diagnosis or gatekeeping. It is not "anti-trans" to question this proposal, but doing so has results in women being abused or threatened with violence.
"Patrick Harvie seems to think "they are asking for it". That's very worrying but bullies like him will not silence us."
The writer of the blog, Juan Mac, backed Mr Harvie's view and said: "ATF has always aimed to be a consistent voice against bigotry in Scotland, in all its forms. Over the last six years, those from all parties and none have earned Weekly W****r nominations. This week is no exception and the reasons for Joan McAlpine’s nomination are explained in detail on the blog.
"McAlpine's role in amplifying anti-trans voices and organisations, while attempting to undermine those who provide services to women and LGBT people in Scotland, has been challenged by voices across the political spectrum, including those within the SNP.
"We must never sit in silence while the rights and dignity of the most marginalised are undermined by those in power. Trans rights are - and will always be - human rights so we will always unapologetically hold to account those who oppose them."