SNP leaders have pledged to change after mass resignations from the party over transphobia.
A statement released this evening explained that the party would now be considering a definition of transphobia “so that all SNP members know the standard of behaviour that is expected from them.”
The statement from Keith Brown MSP, the party’s depute leader, and business convener Kirsten Oswald MP explained that there needed to be “an open conversation about how we got here and how we remove the toxicity from our discussions.”
It comes after many younger activists within the party quit their membership last night over concerns about the party’s stance on transgender rights.
Ms Oswald and Mr Brown continued: “The protection of women’s rights is vital. However, transphobia under a guise of concern for women’s rights is still transphobia. Anyone can have a strongly held opinion without the need to insult, offend or display prejudice against others, and that’s the place we all need to reach.”
The statement comes in the wake of a toxic debate around the reforms of gender laws in Scotland.
The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and the debate around its reforms have split the SNP, with some people believing it provides an opportunity for sexual predators to identify as women to gain access to women-only spaces.
Others say critics are stigmatising transgender people and stoking up transphobia.
The reforms are aimed to make it easier for transgender people to declare their gender through self-identification, rather than go through lengthy medical screening and mental health assessments which some people find humiliating and stressful.
The statement released this evening went on to explain that there would be a discussion at the party’s National Executive Committee this weekend about transphobia.
It read: “A number of initial requests will go to the NEC this weekend including the need to agree a definition of transphobia so that all SNP members know the standard of behaviour that is expected from them.
Where complaints against individuals are made, on this or any issue, the National Secretary will consider these fairly and decide if further action is required. All complaints will be considered without fear or favour.
For anyone thinking about leaving the party — please talk to us before you do.
“We have already reached out to our youth organisations and Out For Indy to allow those affected to talk to us directly about their concerns.”
The First Minister posted a video on Twitter last night condemning transphobia, and vowed to take a “zero tolerance” approach.
She made similar comments in the Holyrood debating chamber this afternoon and later explained: “My words were not intended to doubt the fact that transphobia exists within the SNP. It does – as it does in other parts of society too.
“As I said last night, I am determined that my party tackles it.”