Scottish government urged to end ‘crisis of inaction’ on transphobia by launching major inquiry into all parties

Trans people protest for Gender Recognition Act Reform to make legal gender change less difficult

More than 700 people have signed an open letter condemning a “crisis of inaction on transphobic abuse” in Scotland and demanding that Holyrood launch an independent inquiry into transphobia in political parties.

The signatories, who come from across Scotland’s political spectrum, have come together to ask cisgender allies to “put pressure on all political parties to take internal complaints of transphobic abuse seriously”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter and British Labour party councillor Anwen Muston have signed the open letter condemning “[transphobic] abuse occurring behind the closed doors of our institutions”.

The open letter says: “We are a group of trans and/or non-binary people who have come together from across Scotland’s political spectrum to highlight the crisis of inaction on transphobic abuse in our parties. Over recent years, we have often felt too intimidated to speak on this matter publicly due to the risk of further abuse, both online and in person.

“But with consideration to recent events, we have come together in solidarity to ask our cisgender allies to put pressure on all political parties to take internal complaints of transphobic abuse seriously.”

Author Christine Burns MBE, actor David Paisley and journalist Vonny Laing-LeClerc have also added their names to the call for an independent inquiry.

“Through their silence, our parties have deliberately looked the other way as hate crime against transgender people in Scotland soars to unprecedented numbers,” the letter continues.

“As alleged abusive people still exist in our parties, they can be elected to NEC, and as parliamentarians.

“This means that people with provable track records of hostility against trans people and with serious allegations of abuse are being allowed the power to shape the future of Scotland.”

Scotland’s justice minister Humza Yousaf confirmed last week that new hate crime legislation will mean anti-trans activists who “aggressively campaign” against transgender people will be breaking the law.

While saying that “trans women are not women” will not be criminalised, activists who accompany that comment with “threatening behaviour” could be prosecuted under new “stirring up hatred” offences.

The open letter concludes: “We are pleading with you as we all are citizens in a free and dignified democracy.

“As trans people or allies who wish to see a Scotland where bigotry has no legitimacy, please speak up and sign our petition to show the Scottish government that we say no to discrimination.

“We demand an independent review of all major Scottish parties’ complaint procedures and outstanding complaints regarding internal transphobic abuse and harassment, in line with a definition of transphobia that is agreed upon by the trans community.”