An SNP MSP has apologised for causing any offence as he rejected accusations of “trivialising rape” in a comment he posted online which provoked criticism.
John Mason came under fire after responding to a post on Twitter about the Scottish independence referendum with the comment: “Marginal view was no to indy. We hope to change that. The girl does not always say yes first time!”
The comment sparked a backlash from other users and opposition parties, with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale calling for an apology and for the SNP leadership to consider disciplinary action.
Ms Dugdale said: “This is an entirely unacceptable comment from SNP MSP John Mason, which has caused considerable offence and hurt.
“We have made great strides through education and campaigns to teach the lesson that No means No, and Mr Mason’s choice of words risks undermining that progress.”
NUS Scotland president Vonnie Sandlan accused Mr Mason of “trivialising rape and coercion in a discussion about independence”.
She posted on Twitter: “Unless @JohnMasonMSP steps back from his comments and undertakes serious reflection on why his language is problematic, he should resign.”
But the Glasgow Shettleston MSP insisted the comment was innocent and had referred only to “going out or getting married”.
He said: “I see it as innocent. I think some people are looking for the worst when they read something and every day my tweets get twisted.
“If there are two or three meanings to something I’m afraid some people just always go for the worst one.
“I’m sorry if anyone’s offended or anything like that but I have to say, if you look at it, if people didn’t understand what I meant then they could certainly have asked me, but to assume that it’s something much worse... people who know me, I’m not going to joke about sex, let alone rape.”
Scottish Conservative equalities spokeswoman Annie Wells MSP said: “At a time when we are trying to tackle domestic abuse and violence against women, this was an ill-judged tweet.
“It probably read worse than he intended, and as such he should reflect on the remark.
“MSPs are in a position of responsibility and influence, which is why tweets like this can be so damaging.”