‘Sinister’ warning after Green MSP’s meeting apology The Sunday Times 09.06.19

The original article is here.

An SNP spokeswoman has said “something very sinister is going on” after a Green MSP felt it necessary to apologise for attending a public meeting that heard concerns about the impact new policies on gender could have on women’s rights.

In a statement, Andy Wightman, the Green MSP for Lothian, apologised for distress he had caused to friends and party members, after attending an Edinburgh University meeting on the issue last week.

Holyrood is divided over Scottish government plans to legislate to simplify the process around gender recognition for transgender people under Nicola Sturgeon’s equality drive. Some campaigners and SNP parliamentarians are concerned that it could affect women’s rights, but many of those criticising the plans have been accused of being transphobic and say they have received abuse.

Leading feminist Julie Bindel, a keynote speaker at the Edinburgh event, claimed she was verbally abused and lunged at by a transgender person as she left the building.

After releasing his apology on Twitter, Wightman received hundreds of responses — some defending his right to attend the meeting and others condemning his position. In response he asked people to “just f*** off please”.

SNP Westminster justice spokeswoman Joanna Cherry said she had no doubt that Wightman had come under “intense pressure” and would “need to watch his back now”. She added: “Something very sinister is going on and needs to be called out”.

One SNP parliamentarian who did not wish to be named condemned the behaviour of some trans activists, including some within the party, adding: “This whole approach is Orwellian and anti free speech.” SNP MSP Stuart McMillan said: “Politicians have a duty to listen to all sides of a debate.”

The meeting had been criticised by some students as “transphobic” and prompted all 12 members of the university’s staff LGBT+ committee to resign in protest. Wightman said he had gone along “in order to understand the point of view of the speakers” and that he “was unaware of any controversy surrounding the event until he arrived”.