Alba Party candidate condemned for ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ lie Stonewall wants to lower age of consent

Alba Party Central Scotland candidate Margaret Lynch

A Scottish Alba Party parliamentary candidate has been condemned for spreading the ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ lie that Stonewall wants to lower the age of consent to 10-years-old.

Margaret Lynch, the Central Scotland candidate for Alex Salmond’s recently-formed Alba party, made the comments at the party’s Women’s Conference on Saturday (10 April).

Lynch made the untrue claim that Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland were advocating for reducing the age of consent to 10-years-old because they are two of more than 1,500 member organisations of ILGA World, a global LGBT+ charity.

ILGA World is a signatory of the Feminist Declaration by the Women’s Rights Caucus, which outlines steps towards global gender equality.

One section of the declaration reads: “Eliminate all laws and policies that punish or criminalise same-sex intimacy, gender affirmation, abortion, HIV transmission non-disclosure and exposure, or that limit the exercise of bodily autonomy, including laws limiting legal capacity of adolescents, people with disabilities or other groups to provide consent to sex or sexual and reproductive health services or laws authorising non-consensual abortion, sterilisation, or contraceptive use.”

At no point does the declaration mention lowering the age of consent.

After Lynch made the public claim, ILGA World released a statement declaring that it “categorically, and in no uncertain terms, does not advocate to eliminate or lower the general age of consent, nor supports paedophilia in any way, shape or form – and never has”.

It added: “Our position on this is clear and a matter of public record. These spurious claims, as old as homophobia itself, are dangerous and irresponsible, and we urge those making or sharing them, to stop.”

Responding in a joint statement, Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, and Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “We are appalled by the baseless and offensive accusations made by Alba parliamentary candidate Margaret Lynch on Saturday… She accused Stonewall, LGBT Youth Scotland, and indirectly ILGA World, of campaigning to lower the age of consent to 10.

“Her words were then widely shared online by a number of individuals and organisations.

“What she said was not only untrue, but it was also a wilful, bad faith interpretation made for the sole purpose of trying to smear LGBT+ organisations… In making these accusations, she is repeating deeply harmful myths about LGBT+ people as paedophiles and sexual predators.

“It’s the oldest trick in the homophobic book of lies.

“This kind of language has a long, dark history of being used to paint us as threats to children and stop us from being treated as equal citizens. These myths are used to bully, intimidate and silence LGBT+ people.”

Kelley and Macfarlane added that Lynch’s comments have “no place in public life, or anywhere else in society”, and said: “We call on Margaret Lynch to retract her false accusation and apologise.”

The Scottish Alba Party defended Margaret Lynch’s lies.

While Margaret Lynch’s were widely criticised across the political spectrum, with Patrick Harvie, the leader of the Scottish Greens, insisting the Alba party’s “dangerous agenda” must be “rejected at the ballot box”, according to The Scotsman.

An SNP spokesperson added that her comments were “deeply homophobic and untrue”.

But the Alba Party itself chose to defend Lynch. 

It said in a statement to The Scotsman: “The organisations referenced have both signed up to this demand, and both have received substantial amounts of government funding.

“These are reputable organisations that make a positive impact on the lives of many in Scotland.

“If the organisations do not support what they have signed up to it is for them to say or provide clarification, it is not for women that attended our women’s conference to defend concerns that women have raised based on fact.”

Austin Sheridan, an LGBT+ former SNP councillor who recently joined Alba, has publicly quit the party since its defence of Lynch.

Sheridan said in a statement on social media that “to think a party would defend such a person with these hideous views is beyond me”.

He added: “There is no way I can be part of a party that tolerates such views and does nothing to address them directly.

“I am so disappointed. I am ashamed to have been associated with them… I can only apologise for anyone who has judged me in that category.”