‘Concerned’ Scottish politicians to challenge BBC over Question Time’s toxic trans debate

A split-screen image showing transgender newsreader India Willoughby on the left and author Ella Whelan on the right who appeared on BBC's Question Time on Thursday 2 February

Two members of the Scottish Parliament, Paul McLennan and Jamie Greene, have said they will challenge the BBC and Ofcom after a recent episode of Question Time descended into a “poisonous” shouting match over trans rights. 

The BBC debate show was broadcast on Thursday (2 February) and covered issues including the recent Scotland gender reform bill, and the case of Isla Bryson, a trans rapist who was recently placed in a male prison

Following the show’s airing, transgender newsreader India Willoughby, who formed part of the panel, said the debate felt like her own “hanging”.

Paul McLennan initially responded to a Twitter post by Scottish Green Party activist Ryan McNaughton, in which he flagged the broadcast’s “bigotry”, where he commented: “Let me raise this for you Ryan.”

Following his comment, McLennan told Scottish newspaper The National he would contact the BBC to raise issues concerning the show.

Conservative member of Scottish Parliament, Jamie Greene, also responded to McNaughton’s plea for help via email, in which he said he was “increasingly concerned about the current narrative around trans people”, adding that he was “dismayed at the way trans people have been vilified throughout”.

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Greene’s email added that he would watch the broadcast and report it to the BBC and Ofcom if he felt standards have been breached.

McNaughton tells PinkNews he wrote to parliamentarians “urging them to seek answers from the BBC” and “to challenge this and all kinds of hate speech”. 

Before the show had finished airing, McNaughton said he had contacted members of Scottish Parliament due to feeling “utterly disgusted at the open and obvious transphobia from one of the panel members as well as one of the members of the audience”.  

He says he was shocked by comments made to India Willoughby such as “you are a man” and comments from an audience member suggestion trans women are “abusive men”.

“What is worse, however, is that the host Fiona Bruce allowed this constant abusive rhetoric to be levelled at India,” he adds.

McNaughton says broadcasters “should never allow hate speech to broadcast, in any form”.

Scottish Greens activist Ryan McNaughton. (Ryan McNaughton)

Ryan adds: “I’m going to remain on top of politicians and continue to push them for action on hate speech, and as part of this, I am compiling a large selection of evidence that I intend to send to political parties and parliamentarians to show what people have had to endure, as a result of the clear rise in hate speech and hate crimes. 

“It is my belief that the Gender Recognition Reform debate did not ever have to be conducted in such an abusive and nasty tone.

“I believe strongly in my belief and conviction that trans rights are human rights.” 

PinkNews has contacted the BBC for comment.

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