Scots Tory councillor accused of transphobia over Greta Thunberg post

A senior Scottish Conservative councillor has denied accusations of transphobia after sharing an offensive meme of climate activist Greta Thunberg on social media.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks on stage during a demonstration of students in Germany. Picture: Getty

Stewart Miller, leader of the Tory group on East Renfrewshire Council, shared an image of the world famous environmental campaigner with a caption that claimed her generation couldn’t decide “whether you’re a boy, or girl or ‘other’”.

One constituent claimed the post - since deleted - was transphobic, while LGBT charity Stonewall Scotland said elected representatives should hold themselves to higher standards.

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Mr Miller shared the post as there had been a “deafening silence” from Ms Thunberg since the coronavirus pandemic began. He also said he believed the post was “politically correct”.

The photo of Ms Thunberg was captioned: “My generation will start a revolution.”

Below the image, another caption stated: “Your generation can’t work 40 hours in a week, can’t decide whether you’re a boy, or girl or ‘other’ or can’t eat meat without crying.”

When sharing the post, Mr Miller, a farmer, wrote: “Haven’t heard much fae the wee lassie fae Sweden. Perhaps my coos are not the worst things on the planet after all.

One local resident told The Scotsman: “Cllr Miller’s decision to share a transphobic image and language like this is not only hurtful and damaging to the LGBT community, it also falls well below the standards expected of an elected member and also the standards expected of a group leader of a local party and also Chair of an Audit & Scrutiny committee.”

Colin Macfarlane, a director at Stonewall Scotland, said: “People in positions of political power have a responsibility to champion everyone they represent, which includes LGBT people.

“Jokes about trans people’s identities are hurtful. Trans people need and deserve acceptance and equality.

“We should all be focused on tackling prejudices and achieving acceptance without exception for all LGBT people.””

In response to the complaints, Mr Miller told the Glasgow Extra: “My comment is wholly restricted to the fact that there has been a deafening silence from the young lady from Sweden whilst the world comes to terms with the current situation and that perhaps cattle might not be the biggest scourge on the planet today, despite all the things that have been said.

“The post, that had been copied, far from being transphobic was actually politically correct in as much as it stated that some people thought of themselves as male or female but others thought of themselves differently, hence the reference to ‘others’.

“Personally, I didn’t find this funny as it had a very serious message as we were about to enter lockdown at that time and Ms Thunberg’s message might be lost with the coronavirus pandemic taking up all the news.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives told The Scotsman: “We agree with Stonewall that elected members need to up their game when it comes to this kind of thing.

“Cllr Miller has been reminded of his responsibilities, and apologises for anyone offended by the post.”

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