Not for anyone to limit free speech over legitimate concerns about women’s protection
By Bill Heaney
The First Minister has been urged to reveal if a charity was pressured into shutting down discussion of women’s safety and the GRR Bill.
Ahead of an event with Nicola Sturgeon today (Tuesday), reports stated that the charity Zero Tolerance sent a note out to attendees asking that they do not bring up women’s safety in single sex spaces in relation to the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill.
Scottish Conservative spokesperson on gender reform, Rachael Hamilton MSP, has asked Nicola Sturgeon to clarify if anybody from the government or her party requested that the charity limit discussion of the GRR Bill.
Rachael Hamilton – decision to prevent guests from discussing women’s safety with the First Minister is alarming.
Ms Hamilton wrote to the First Minister yesterday to ask that the GRR Bill be suspended until evidence could be taken from Reem Alsalem, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls.
Ms Alsalem said the current bill “presents potential risks to the safety of women” and offered to help the government with it.
After the UN intervention, Ms Hamilton called for a short delay to the Bill and said: “it would be far better to pause this legislation for a few weeks later than rush through a bill that could have potentially damaging consequences for women’s rights and safety.”
The Scottish Conservatives submitted an Urgent Question to the Scottish Parliament on the issue today (Tuesday), which was rejected.
Rachael Hamilton MSP said:“Zero Tolerance have done excellent work in Scotland by pushing to tackle men’s violence against women and promoting gender equality. I wish them well on their 30th anniversary.
“However, the decision to prevent guests from discussing women’s safety with the First Minister is alarming. It raises serious questions about why this message to attendees occurred.
“Women’s groups in Scotland and international experts from the United Nations are rightly concerned that the government’s GRR Bill could risk women’s safety.
“Women should be able to raise potential threats to our safety with the First Minister. It is not for anyone in Scotland to limit free speech over legitimate concerns about women’s protection.
“I hope the First Minister will clarify if anyone in the government or her party asked this charity to ban discussion of women’s safety in relation to the GRR Bill. It would be completely wrong to shut down discussion of women’s single sex spaces.
“This is an important issue that demands free debate and full consideration of all views. We must listen to women who are concerned about this bill and the Parliament must hear evidence from experts at the United Nations about its potential consequences.”
Top picture: Nicola Sturgeon taking part in a trans gender rights march in the West of Scotland.