Nicola Sturgeon drops new minister following ‘offensive’ comments about transgender people

SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon has dropped a newly nominated Minister from the cabinet following the re-discovery of a series of anti-trans comments.

On Thursday, SNP politician Gillian Martin had her nomination for a cabinet position withdrawn by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon after comments she had made about transgender people were publicised.

According to a report in The Times, Martin had taken aim at transgender people on a personal blog in 2007, referring to trans people as “hairy knuckled lipstick-wearing transitional laydees.”

Martin at a MSP surgery (@GillianMSP / Twitter)

Martin had previously been nominated as the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science in Wednesday’s cabinet reshuffle and was expected to be confirmed on Thursday.

Following the publication of the comments – which had been deleted following a similar controversy in 2016 but were still available through online archives – the SNP leader Sturgeon opted to not nominate Martin.

In one post, the Aberdeenshire East MSP wrote: “Are we going to see lovely photos in the foyer of hairy knuckled lipstick- wearing transitional transgender Laydees being embraced by the principal of undisclosed college or visiting politicians for the press?

She added: “See, I told you I was going to get the sack. (Or is that what the gender reassignment surgeon gets when they do the operation?”

Trans rights campaigners (MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images)

When discussing a gender identity survey in a different post, the former college lecturer described EU funding for pro-trans policies as a “tranny trove.”

Martin wrote: “How much extra money will the undisclosed establishment get due to the fact that the EU clearly have a tranny trove?

“What will they use it for? Will they install a third category of loo with a special transgender sign?”

Following the publication of the remarks, Martin apologised in a statement where she said the remarks were not an accurate reflection of her views even when she wrote them.

She wrote on Twitter: “In 2007 I wrote a blog that I deeply regret. I used language that was inappropriate and offensive. I expressed myself in a way that did not reflect my view then and certain does not reflect my view now.

“That is entirely my fault and I am sorry for it. That’s why, when this blog was last raised publicly two years ago, I apologised and I am more than happy to reservedly apologise again today.”

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday that the remarks did not “reflect the views of the person that I know in Gillian Martin” but that she would not be appointing her as a minister at this time.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The decision was praised by many, including Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson.

Davidson wrote: “Pleased the Scottish Government have withdrawn Gillian Martin’s nomination for minister.

“We spoke to them this morning to confirm this was not an appointment we could support following comments published this morning.”

Sturgeon herself faced staunch criticism from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard who claimed that the First Minister was previously aware of Martin’s comments but chose to nominate her.

During First Minister’s questions on Thursday, Leonard said: “In the end, this is not just about the judgment of Gillian Martin, this is about your judgment.”

Nicola Sturgeon (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

This controversy comes just one day after Sturgeon announced a commitment to Scotland’s position on trans rights.

Scotland recently consulted on proposals to streamline the process for transgender people to change their legal gender, which is currently governed by the UK-wide Gender Recognition Act.

Speaking ahead of the PinkNews summer reception in Belfast, the First Minister vowed to push ahead with plans to “make Scotland fairer” for trans people despite increasing hostility to reforms in the media.

Sturgeon told PinkNews: “Scotland has come a long way in the last ten years in defending and promoting LGBTI rights.

“Scotland was the first country in the UK to consult on same-sex marriage, and we have also reformed adoption law to permit same-sex couples to adopt jointly. The next step on this journey is to ensure that we are doing more to make Scotland fairer for transgender people.”

She added: “The Scottish Government will take firm action against discrimination and homophobia wherever and whenever it happens. We need to do more to ensure that people from all walks of life are better represented in politics, our institutions and across civic and wider society.”