30th January 2021.
(by Rhona Hotchkiss)
On Thursday evening, Nicola Sturgeon took to Twitter to issue a self-filmed, off-the-cuff video message. She made it in response to reports of ‘significant numbers’ of young people resigning from the SNP over allegations of transphobia. The resignations (reported to be around 24) came after the Justice Minister Humza Yousaf proposed an amendment to the much-criticised Hate Crime Bill. Ms Sturgeon said that there was no place for transphobia in the SNP. And Who could disagree?
The Hate Crimes Bill as initially written was a truly remarkable piece of legislation. For the first time since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, a piece of legislation managed to unite the Roman Catholic Church, the Free Church, the Orange Lodge, the Secular Society and much of the arts community in collaborative opposition. It was also remarkable for its ill-conceived and unworkable proposals to criminalise wrong-think and any utterances deemed to be hateful or abusive towards any protected characteristic (except sex), even in the privacy of one’s own home.
The religious community worried that it would mean they could not say that other faiths were heretical or that gay people were going to hell; the arts community worried that it would mean they couldn’t say anything critical of anyone, even as a part of a script that was critical of the criticism; the secularists worried that it would mean they couldn’t criticise religious thought or practice; feminists worried that it would mean they couldn’t say ‘transwomen are not women’ and lesbians and gay men worried that they couldn’t say respectively ‘we don’t do penis’ and ‘we don’t do vagina’. It seemed that the only people praising the proposed Bill were gender ideologists and their allies, with everyone else recognising that freedom of thought and speech would be criminalised.
In response to the Bill, hundreds of people – mostly women – resigned or threatened to resign from the SNP at what they viewed as the party’s blatant attempts to silence feminists and LGB people’s resistance to the new hegemony of gender ideology, much of which they saw as thinly veiled misogyny and homophobia. So, of course, you’d expect Nicola Sturgeon to take to Twitter to say that there was no room for misogyny or homophobia in the SNP. Except she didn’t. In fact, she said precisely nothing.
The amendment proposed by Mr Yousaf (that got those 24 people who left the party so agitated) simply said, “Behaviour or material is not to be taken to be threatening or abusive solely on the basis that it involves or includes discussion or criticism of matters relating to transgender identity”. No, really. That’s it.
That such an anodyne statement could be reported by some as a ‘Transphobes Charter’ is an illustration of how far down the unreality rabbit-hole, the gender ideology lobby has gone. When free speech is under threat, when we are facing demands for legitimate questioning and criticism to be criminalised, when women and LGB people can be considered fair game for abuse simply for defending their rights, the time has long since past when we have to make a stand and say no to this new totalitarianism.