THE MISINFORMATION around proposed reforms to the process for trans people to obtain gender recognition is reminiscent of the treatment of gay men in decades past, the director of an LGBT charity has said.

In the first public evidence session on the long-delayed Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, Stonewall Scotland director Colin Macfarlane told MSPs on Holyrood’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee that trans people should not be treated as a “threat”.

He also insisted that the Bill as it has been proposed by the Scottish Government would not impact on the Equality Act 2010 – a key claim of opponents of the new legislation.

The Scottish Government plans are supported by all Holyrood parties except the Scottish Conservatives.

The 2010 Act allows for exceptions in protections for trans people which can allow them to be barred from participating in women’s sports and accessing single sex services.

Representatives of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which appeared later in the same hearing on Tuesday, said more time should be taken to understand the full impact of legislative change on other groups in society.

READ MORE: SNP Government warned gender recognition plans 'do not go far enough' for trans people

When asked by Tory MSP Alexander Stewart if he believed that the Bill posed a “threat” to women and girls and their rights, Mr Macfarlane said: “I think we have to be very careful in the public discourse around this that trans people are human beings, they are valid, they are not a threat to the wider public and some of the framing around this subject has been really unfortunate.”

Mr Macfarlane, a gay man who came out in the late 1990s, added: “A lot of the discourse around this is reminiscent of the discourse around lesbian, gay and bi identities and particularly around gay men – that we were predatory, that we were somehow a threat to children, that we were a safeguarding risk, that there was something inherently dangerous about us.

“The same rhetoric is being used around trans people, and particularly trans women around the reform of this Bill.”

Under the Bill, the age at which a gender recognition certificate can be acquired will be reduced from 18 to 16, along with the length of time needed for the applicant to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months with an additional three month reflection period.

The legislation was introduced in March after two public consultations on the subject in recent years.