15 August 2023

SNP depute leader condemns abuse in gender recognition debate

15 August 2023

SNP depute leader Keith Brown has said he has been subjected to abuse for his views on the gender recognition reforms passed by the Scottish Parliament last year.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday, Mr Brown condemned personal abuse that has been directed at politicians throughout the debate surrounding the Gender Recognition Act.

He was asked about comments made by SNP deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black at an Edinburgh Fringe show which compared “gender critical” activists to “white supremacists”, but Mr Brown said he had not heard them.

He told the programme: “I have always tried to take a very straightforward approach and I’m not involved in abusing or calling anybody names in what I understand is a controversial issue.

People should have the right to have their say without having to suffer that kind of personal abuse

“It was voted on by a vast majority of people in the Scottish Parliament and I stand by that vote.

“I do agree there should be no place for personal abuse. I have been subjected to abuse for my own views but I don’t agree it’s right to indulge in personal abuse. People should have the right to have their say without having to suffer that kind of personal abuse.”

Mr Brown was removed from his role as justice secretary in March in First Minister Humza Yousaf’s Cabinet reshuffle.

He had held Government positions since 2009.

Asked if the SNP is “not a happy ship”, Mr Brown said there is “no question” the party has “challenges”.

He added: “That’s probably no different from any other party at any given time.”

Mr Brown also said he would support a debate on the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and Scottish Greens at his party’s upcoming conference – though he still backs the deal.

He said: “If that’s the case and people want to have that discussion, then if that gets on to the agenda then of course I would support that debate, but that is a process that has to be gone through.

“My own personal view is that we had a very comprehensive vote in favour of that Bute House Agreement and I remain very strongly in favour of that Bute House Agreement.”

SNP MSP Fergus Ewing has previously called the Greens “hard left extremists”, but Mr Brown said that was “an absurd characterisation”.

He added: “The SNP wouldn’t be in coalition with anyone described as extremists.”

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