A SENIOR SNP member has called those using the debate around gender recognition reforms for their own political gain “morally repugnant”.

In a leaked report, seen by The Herald, the party’s former national secretary also said “importing culture wars from elsewhere” would “jeopardise” the independence movement.

Angus Macleod, who was the national secretary until this month, was responding to questions from members at the last SNP conference about disciplinary policy and the complaints process when he made the remarks.

The Herald:

He also said he would support the party adopting a “working definition” of transphobia in a “modernised” code of conduct for the party.

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Responding to a question about why “concerns raised about transphobia have not been addressed” within the SNP, Mr Macleod said those using the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform debate to improve their standing should be wary.

The Gender Recognition Act 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 UK Government has already dropped its plans to reform the law, while the Scottish Government is expected to announce its plans following the Holyrood elections in May. 

Mr Macleod said: “Whilst some individuals may consider GRA reform a useful wedge issue to generate attention and, presumably, votes for themselves, doing this at the expense of a minority community is morally repugnant.

“Importing discourse from culture wars elsewhere will leave the party open to threats from disinformation and jeopardise our ability to succeed as a movement in reaching our goal of independence.”

He warned: “If people think they are succeeding in dividing our movement on this piece of legislation, they’ll try to do the same with other issues as well, in order to prevent us reaching our goal – further harming other minorities in the process. I would urge members not to fall for this approach.  

“There has been some discussion at NEC [National Executive Commitee] about transphobia and there has been a clearly expressed view that there is no place for it in the party. There is a place for views on legislation to be given in a respectful way, and accepting views in good faith would be a helpful starting point.”

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When asked if there should be a clearer definition of transphobia within the party’s disciplinary codes, he said: “I would agree that would be helpful.

"Although the code of conduct remains quite broad brush to ensure it covers as many behaviours as possible, we currently engage specialist advice from minority communities when it comes to certain types of prejudice and xenophobia.

“We could look to formalise this, alongside a working definition for transphobia. That would allow a code to remain relatively broad, whilst ensuring more clear definitions were applied in any relevant circumstance.”