LORNA Slater has been accused of breaching the ministerial code after she compared critics of government plans to reform gender recognition laws to racists and antisemites.

In an interview with The Herald on Sunday, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, also said that opposition was being partly funded by “certain right-wing American groups”. 

READ MORE: NEIL MACKAY'S BIG READ: Independence, trans rights and her record in government: Scottish Greens Minister Lorna Slater comes out fighting

One Tory MSP described Ms Slater as a “radical extremist” and called for Nicola Sturgeon to sack the Green MSP.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government tabled new legislation to simplify the process for a trans person to obtain a certificate legally recognising their acquired gender. 

Currently, they need a medical diagnosis and a two-year period of living as that gender.

However, the new proposals would remove the need for medical assessment, and allow someone to obtain a gender recognition certificate through self-declaration after six months

Some feminist campaigners have raised concerns that the new legislation could have an impact on the single-sex exceptions in the Equality Act. They’ve also expressed fears the change in law could potentially place women in danger from men who might abuse a self-identification system.

The legislation will almost certainly pass through parliament, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon could see a sizeable rebellion, with around 10 of her MSPs likely to oppose.  Some Labour MSPs will also likely vote against the reforms.

The Scottish Conservatives - with the exception of Jamie Greene - will also not support the change in law. 

Last month, Shona Robison, the SNP minister responsible for steering the legislation through Holyrood, called for a respectful debate, telling MSPs: “I understand the views and concerns of those who opposed the reforms.

"Just because they disagree with the proposals, people should not be automatically labelled as transphobic. If everyone is respectful, we should all be able to discuss the proposals and views in a civilised manner. It is important that we try to build consensus.”

In her interview, Ms Slater compared the debate around the new legislation to “ridiculous bathroom laws” in the US that define access to public toilets by gender or transgender identity. 

The minister said: “Just let people get on with their lives. My understanding is that there’s money in this from certain right-wing American groups that’s been flooding into organisations in the UK.”

Although she didn't specify which groups, a source pointed towards reports of evangelical groups such as the well-funded ADF International, an American conservative Christian legal advocacy group that submitted a response to the Scottish Government's consultation.

In her interview, the minister also compared critics to climate change sceptics. She said that the BBC “only recently stopped putting on climate deniers because they required balance. We wouldn’t put balance on the question of racism or anti-Semitism, but we allow this fictional notion of balance when it comes to anti-trans [views]. The whole thing is disgusting.”

Tory MSP Brian Whittle tweeted “There should be no place in Government for this kind of  radical extremism. Surely she must be removed from post? How many times is this SG minister going to get away with this kind of offence?”

The SNP MP Joanna Cherry tweeted: “Scotland deserves better than this.”

While journalist and ex-Labour adviser Susan Dalgety suggested Ms Slater had breached the ministerial code, specifically section one which calls on Scottish ministers "to maintain high standards of behaviour and to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety."

The code goes on to say that ministers "should be professional in all their dealings and treat all those with whom they come into contact with consideration and respect."

It adds: "Working relationships, including with civil servants, Ministerial and Parliamentary colleagues and Parliamentary staff should be proper and appropriate. Harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour, wherever it takes place, is not consistent with the Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated."

Ms Dalgetty also suggested Ms Slater's claim about US funding breached the code's call for ministers to be truthful. 

“I hold out no hope that Slater will apologise for her defamatory remarks, but I hope  @NicolaSturgeon will on her behalf. If she doesn’t, she sends a clear signal to the women of Scotland that she, like her junior minister, believes the majority of us are bigots.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The aim of this government is to ensure that trans people in Scotland enjoy equality and feel safe and accepted for who they are.

"We appreciate the range of strongly held views on the Gender Recognition Act and have always been keen to seek consensus where possible and to work to support respectful debate.

"We are committed to making changes... to improve and simplify the process for a trans person to gain legal recognition."