What I really said at the Alba Party conference - Margaret Lynch

My remarks at the Alba Conference can be verified by anyone who visits the website of the ILGA.

Margaret Lynch.

It was a fantastic conference with over 400 women participating, which resulted in the Alba Party adopting a Women and Equalities Policy Statement, which acknowledges that no single protected characteristic is more virtuous or worthy of recognition and safeguarding than another.

All of the reports my three-minute speech to the Alba Conference – whether on Twitter or in the media – were based on a third party account. This has been maliciously and cynically twisted for political ends, and demands have been made that I apologise for things I never said and do not believe.

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ILGA and Stonewall have issued statements saying they don’t condone paedophilia – I never suggested that they did.

Like many others, I was concerned that the ILGA had adopted the “Feminist Declaration”, which calls for the elimination of laws that limit the legal capacity of adolescents to consent to sex.

There is no expansion or cross-reference on the definition of “adolescent” which the United Nations and World Health Organisation and most international organisations determine as being between ten and 19. The document has been described as “morally repugnant” in the Gay Press.

All sorts of justifications have circulated – Unison (also an ILGA member) suggested that it was written by someone who didn’t speak English as a first language, others that the term “adolescent” is non-numerical defining the in-between stage of childhood and adulthood, others again that the document probably doesn’t mean what is says it does.

But words matter – and lobbying organisations know they do. This lobbying organisation, in particular, should be much more careful given its own chequered history – three times refused ECOSOC status as an NGO because of its association with pro-paedophile organisations – again information obtainable from their own website.

Why did I single out the ILGA as one signatory out of apparently 200?

Simple – the ILGA has significant influence with the Scottish Government. Last week I knew of two Scottish organisations who were their members – Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland – both of whom are in receipt of significant public funds.

I now know that there are many Scottish organisations who are members of ILGA, including the Equality Network, Scottish Trans Alliance and over the last three years these organisations have been in receipt of £2.8 million of Scottish public funds.

As ILGA stipulates that membership organisations sign up to all their aims, it is not unreasonable to question whether they were aware that the ILGA had signed up to this “morally repugnant” document.

My position was and remains that organisations funded by our Government should have challenged this – and the Scottish Government needs to exercise due diligence on the matter.

The “Scotland is Now” campaign from Brand Scotland, a Scottish Government venture, states that the ILGA’s vision “aligns perfectly with Scotland’s".

The Scottish Government are public about their dismay at losing the number one slot on the ILGA’s index on LGBTI friendly governments to Malta. This may lie in the past failure of senior members of the government to unequivocally support gay rights when the rest of us did – and their determination not to be “on the wrong side of history in future”.

Not content with just clarifying positions, certain groups and other keyboard warriors have launched vicious personal attacks. I have been called transphobic and homophobic and been on the receiving end of threats of violence for raising legitimate concerns about placing the safeguarding of children at the heart of public policy making.

One of my doughty defenders, Allison Bailey, wrote: “LGBT+ organisations that have signed a declaration to lower the age of consent to ten years should face scrutiny”.

“This isn’t homophobic. LGBTQ+ organisations and their supporters who ignore red flags about child safeguarding and cry homophobia are helping to create the most dangerous climate for children. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people aren’t immoral. They don’t seek some opt out of basic values, including safeguarding.”

I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to safeguarding children, there are no free passes. To allow organisations or groups to be “beyond reproach” when it comes to protecting our children has dangerous precedents.

N.B. Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland remain members of the ILGA, which has not ditched its commitment to the Feminist Declaration calling for the elimination of all laws relating to the age of consent for adolescents. Why?