SNP’s Michael Russell reassures gender-aware campaigners on Yes campaign proposal

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People who hold critical gender views will not be excluded from the official independence campaign despite activists’ concerns, the party chairman has said.

A row has erupted within the party and the wider independence movement over plans to adopt a definition of transphobia in the code of conduct for a future official Yes campaign, to be drawn up by the SNP.

Opponents claimed the proposal would mean those who said trans women biologically remain men would be excluded from the campaign.

But Michael Russell, chairman of the party and one of the motion’s supporters, assured it would not ‘silence’ women who believe biological sex is immutable after concerns were raised by the prominent SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

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The motion, which would see the SNP adopt a pledge drafted by grassroots organizations, would require those seeking to join the official campaign to adhere to a code of conduct described as being “built on the principles of freedom, tolerance, equality , the protection of individual and collective rights and the rejection of prejudice and discrimination in all their forms”.

An article in the Herald on Sunday said the motion would mean activists would be banned from taking part in the official Yes campaign if they referred to “a trans woman as a biological man”. This is mentioned as an example of transphobia in the SNP code of conduct.

In response to the article, Cherry tweeted, “Perhaps the movers of the motion could confirm that there is no intention to silence or marginalize gender-critical feminists or people with the protected characteristic of homosexual orientation, and the upheaval could then be mitigated?”

Russell replied, “There is no such intention.”

He added that the suggestion that those with critical gender views would be barred from the official Yes campaign was “absurd” and “antagonizes good Indy supporters”.

Cherry said she hopes “other movers of the motion will feel able to give the same assurance.”

Russell told the Herald on Sunday that the motion – which has yet to be formally passed and will be debated by SNP members later in the year – was intended to ensure the “highest quality of inclusive debate”.

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