THE CONSERVATIVES have denied claims that a tweet by Douglas Ross was “a dog whistle” for people less in favour of LGBT rights.

The Scottish Tory leader took to Twitter to vent his anger at the leadership of the SNP and Greens reaching a deal – labelling it “anti-families”.

Mr Ross received hundreds of comments from social media users accusing him of speaking out against the Greens’ more liberal perspective on trans rights and wider LGBT rights.

Party officials have insisted that the phrase was in reference to the SNP-Greens agreement putting working families under more strain.

Scottish Greens co-leader, Loran Slater, said: “The Scottish Green party are very strong on LGBTQ+ rights and I think what Douglas Ross said is a dog whistle for people who are less in favour of those rights.”

Nicola Sturgeon stressed “it’s for Douglas Ross to explain what Douglas Ross meant”.

She added: “I am not making any inference there, but Lorna is right – that phrase anti-family is a well-known dog whistle for people who want to criticise gay rights, to a lesser extent people who want to take a dig at women who don’t have children. It’s pretty nasty.

“If Douglas Ross didn’t mean that then I hope he takes the opportunity to say that and clarify that and maybe explain what he did mean because I can’t think of the rational explanation for that rather unpleasant phrase.”

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “It is 100% wrong to suggest this comment was about LGBT families. Nothing whatsoever in this tweet is critical of LGBT people.

“This comment was solely about the SNP-Green coalition hammering hardworking families, as we have said repeatedly since news of a nationalist deal broke."

“By 'anti-families', we mean exactly that – the SNP-Green Government will be harmful to families of all kinds across Scotland, regardless of the sex, gender or background of those families.”