SCOTTISH Government Wellbeing Economy minister Neil Gray has been criticised after he refused to say if double rapist Isla Bryson was a man or a woman.

The Conservatives claimed the SNP politician had attempted to make rapist “an alternative gender.”

31-year-old Bryson - previously known as Adam Graham - only began identifying as a woman after being charged with the sex crimes and has not legally changed gender.

They were initially housed in Cornton Vale, Scotland’s only female prison before being moved to Barlinnie following a backlash. 

Their conviction, coming just weeks after MSPs passed the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, sparked a huge political row, with SNP politicians split on whether to refer to Bryson as a man or a woman. 

Nicola Sturgeon initially refused to say, but then at a press conference referred to Bryson by a series of female pronouns.

Pressed on the issue, Ms Sturgeon said: “She regards herself as a woman.  I regard the individual as a rapist."

READ MORE: More confusion as Sturgeon refers to double-rapist as 'she' and 'her'

Mr Gray was being interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on Monday morning, ahead of Humza Yousaf’s meeting with Rishi Sunak in No 10.  

He was asked if the Scottish Government had worked out whether Bryson is a man or a woman.

Mr Gray replied: “Well, Humza Yousaf has already said during the leadership campaign that he believes that Isla Bryson was ‘at it’ in terms of the way that, in which, they appear to try to portray themselves and at the end of the day, Isla Bryson is a rapist and has been treated as such within the Scottish prisons.” 

Asked again if they were a man or a woman, the minister said Bryson was a “man when he, when they, committed the rape, and Humza Yousaf has said that they were at it when they were attempting to portray themselves as something different.”

The minister said a “gender recognition certificate was not the material factor in the treatment of any prisoner going through the Scottish prison system.” 

They added: “The material factor there is the assessment that is carried out by the Scottish prison service as to the risk that they pose there and the principle that applies is that those you suggest a prisoner that has committed rape, it should not be serving in the female estate.” 

READ MORE: Double rapist Isla Bryson jailed for eight years

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton described the interview as a “car-crash.” 

She added:  “Months on from this case first hitting the headlines, and SNP ministers still can’t bring themselves to refer to this double rapist as a man.

“The refusal of politicians to say what is self-evidently true is hugely offensive to Bryson’s victims and exasperating for the public.”

The Tory said Mr Gray’s difficulties were because of his support for the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which simplifies the process for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate by, in part, removing the need for a medical diagnosis.

This policy of ‘self-ID’ - backed by a majority of MSPs just before Christmas - has been blocked by the UK Government, who used a Section 35 Order to stop it from gaining Royal Assent. 

Mr Yousaf is to challenge the Whitehall veto, with the Scottish Government confirming a judicial review last week.

Ms Hamilton said if Mr Gray had conceded that Bryson was a man it would “totally contradict and undermine the SNP’s flawed gender self-ID policy.”

She added: “And so we’re left with Neil Gray’s absurd equivocation and the implication that ‘rapist’ is somehow an alternative gender.

“The SNP should be amending Nicola Sturgeon’s reckless Gender Reform Bill, rather than spoiling for a legal fight over it with the UK government in a desperate attempt to divert attention from the chaos and splits in the party.”