Launch of Scottish Green Women’s Declaration

Women’s hard won sex-based  rights are being silenced in the Scottish Green Party, according to a group  of women members, ex-members and their supporters.

“There now exists a chilling atmosphere of censure and fear within the Party, which affects not only free speech but free thought,” they state in an open letter – the Scottish Green Women’s Declaration for Sex-based Rights – addressed to the party’s leadership and published on the website where signatures can be added to the declaration.

“Women’s rights, based on the reality of biological sex, have been eroded within the SGP, as elsewhere in society. We believe the consequences of this are extremely damaging for women and girls,” the Declaration states.

“We are all members or supporters of SGP, or former members who have resigned in frustration, or been forced out of membership, or have been expelled or suspended because of our commitment to the legitimacy of advocating for women’s sex based rights,” says the Declaration.

The Scottish Green Women’s Declaration group is also opening a petition on the website to gather further signatures of those who support their stand.

Amongst the Declaration’s 45 founding signatories, both men and women, are Scottish Greens members with more than 40 years membership of the party and its Ecology Party predecessor as well as former leader and first Green MSP Robin Harper giving his support.

Also today, final submissions are being heard in Shahrar Ali’s court case against the Green Party of England and Wales alleging discrimination against him for his so-called gender-critical beliefs.

In an 8-point list detailing their beliefs and concerns, the Declaration asserts that women and girls are subject to discrimination and oppression on the basis of their sex; that sex should not be confused with gender and that sex is a biological reality; that women and girls have the right to maintain their sex-based protections as set out in the Equality Act (2010), including female only spaces, and that women have the right to refuse consent to males being in these spaces or males delivering intimate services to females.

Women and girls have the right to discuss policies which affect them, without being abused, harassed of intimidated, the list concludes.

“We reject all attempts to undermine or limit the rights of women to self-organise and we call on, and expect, the Scottish Green Party, along with the wider green movement actively to support these essential freedoms,” they state.

“This Declaration has been initiated by members and supporters of the Scottish Green Party in endorsement of the Declaration initiated by members of the Green Party of England and Wales.

“We are fully committed to the Core Values of the SGP to address the climate and ecological emergencies and transform society for the benefit of all and the planet as a whole.

“We know that globally women, as a sex, are disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental degradation, and that their empowerment is essential to our work as environmentalists.”

One long-standing party member commented: “I would not have voted for the Transpositivity motion at the SGP conference in 2018. It says that trans women are women and trans men are men. I cannot believe this statement and consider it to be divisive, offensive, bullying, unjust and sexist. Most of us who have been following this issue as it developed, believe that quashing the expression of belief is an infringement of the individual human rights to belief and to free speech.

“Dialogue about this has been quashed by the party centrally. What we need is open, non-confrontational debate between trans supporters and those of us who believe in the immutability of biological sex and support human rights in general and women’s rights in particular.”

Another member commented: “While I agree that the process of changing one’s legal gender could, and should, be simplified, I found the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill problematic and believe it should be revised.

“My main concern is the combination of self-ID and lowering the  minimum age to 16. How can we be sure that a 16-year old applicant for a gender recognition certificate with gender dysphoria appreciates the serious nature of a legal gender change, and that obtaining a gender recognition certificate will not be a contributing factor for a physical transition they come to regret in their 20s or 30s? “

Another said: “The party as a whole feels very anti-women, especially since the resignation of Andy Wightman and the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. One member received an official warning for using the term ‘biological males’ in an online Conference Motion chat, when referring to differences in human biology and questioning fairness and safety around the inclusion of trans athletes in women’s sports.”

A former Scottish Green Party member commented: “I joined the Scottish Green Party 20 years ago because of its commitment to environmentalism, social justice, peace and international solidarity.

“I was very active in the Party until it took its misogynistic turn. As a man who has supported the feminist movement’s demands for gender equality for forty years, I could not accept the Party’s policies that were undermining hard-won women’s rights.

“Then the party became increasingly hostile to dissenters to its gender policies and forcibly shut down debate. Identity politics seemed more important to the Party than environmental justice or the climate crisis.

“When the Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed, with its dangerous promotion of the nonsensical notion of ‘gender self-identification’, I could not remain a member of the party that had betrayed its commitment to social justice.”

Expelled for her ‘gender-critical beliefs, another commented: “I am a psychotherapist, and thus well-educated in matters of human development and emotional well-being, and have had personal experience of a male family member choosing, in adulthood, to make the ‘transition’ to identifying as a woman. I had therefore read and reflected extensively in this area. Once I became aware of how ‘gender ideology’ constituted a danger to vulnerable and often confused young people, I was concerned to participate in the necessary public debate about the implications for public life and culture of proposed legislation by the Scottish and Westminster governments.

“It came as a complete surprise to be accused by a member of the SGP of transphobia for supporting Shahrar Ali in his opposition to this ideology. I was subject to a complaint, and despite defending my position on the grounds of protected free speech and questions of safeguarding, I was required to submit to ‘re-education’ and to refrain from commenting on Twitter. This I refused to do, and was therefore summarily expelled from the party in April 2022.”

Another SGP member revealed: “An online meeting was arranged in January 2021 following Andy Wightman’s resignation to help members understand party policy on Trans issues.  The facilitator began with the following statement- ‘Exploring issues is encouraged, but it’s not okay to discuss identities. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people exist.” It was explicitly stated that unless you accepted this, the meeting and the party were not for you! This was hardly an encouraging start to an honest exploration and had a chilling effect on many who had attended with sincere motives.

“Party members who wish to steer a middle course through this minefield of conflicting rights and ideologies have faced a dilemma. Should they resign over this single issue which also divides members of all other political parties? Or, when their principal concerns align with core Green Party values, should they continue to give their support and try to influence party policy in a more tolerant direction? Many in the latter group are losing hope in the face of the take over of many key positions by militant trans activists.”