PinkNews hosts Edinburgh Pride Reception

A COUNTY-BASED MSP has been heckled by pro-LGBT+ campaigners for voting against the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill, despite claiming to be a "trans ally".

Craig Hoy, South Scotland MSP and former councillor for Haddington and Lammermuir, was in attendance at the PinkNews Edinburgh Pride Reception on Wednesday evening.

The event was attended by MSPs from across the political spectrum, including Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens and Shirley-Anne Sommerville of the SNP.

Mr Hoy, Conservative, declared himself a "trans ally" but admitted to the audience that he did not vote for the GRR Bill. He added: "I put my hands up to that."

This was claimed as contradictory by panellists and members of the audience, who believed a trans ally would have supported reforms to benefit the transgender community.

It also contrasted with his Conservative colleague Jamie Greene, who opened the event and confirmed that he had voted in favour of the bill, stating he thought it was "unfair" that young trans people had to read "headlines where they use the word trans in the same sentence as the words monster or pervert".

Mr Hoy’s attendance at the event was a last-minute replacement for Douglas Ross MP, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who was scheduled to attend the reception but later cancelled.

Members of the audience, as well as the panellists, appeared determined to respond to some of Mr Hoy's comments.

He was heckled from the audience by Michael Sturrock, head of communications and outreach for Angus Robertson MSP.

Mr Sturrock had asked for further clarification on Mr Hoy's reasoning for not voting for the GRR.

Mr Hoy responded to the heckle by saying he was “mindful that there are other voices and other issues and that actually there were a couple of technical issues in there. But I think if the Scottish Government had thought about it, if we debated it more, we could potentially have done that".

Mr Sturrock continued to press Mr Hoy for further clarification on the "technical issues" he found with the GRR bill.

Mr Hoy responded that he voted against the legislation with a “very heavy heart” but that he could not support the bill as he felt there were key amendments needed and had heard from some LGBTQ+ people who urged him to stand up for "women's rights, and women's safety and safe spaces''.

The MSP added that, while many would not agree with his comments, he was eager for the "right legislation" to be brought forward and criticised the SNP for not taking on board proposed amendments.

These included adding a medical provision to the process to stop 16 and 17-year-olds getting a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

Speaking to PinkNews at the end of the evening, Mr Hoy provided additional information on the "technical issues" he found in the GRR bill.

He stressed that there were three elements, reiterating his concern about insufficient safeguards for women’s rights and women’s safety, and questioning whether sex offenders should have access to the Scottish Government’s GRA scheme.

He also claimed that “sensible amendments” were proposed to the legislation but that they were ultimately rejected.

When asked how long a trans person should have to live in their gender before being granted a GRC, he said that there was a “big discussion” to be had.

He added: "Some people say more than six months, 12 months, two years – I don’t have an absolute answer to that."

Mr Hoy called for “further investigation” around the age that a person could legally transition, saying it was a “very significant” decision to do so, but acknowledged that transitioning was “reversible”.

The panel discussion also hosted several notable MSPs from each of the major parties in Scotland, including Pam Duncan-Glancy (Labour), Patrick Harvie (Scottish Greens), Shirley-Anne Somerville (SNP), and Councillor Euan Davidson (Liberal Democrats). Additionally, the evening saw speeches from Jamie Greene MSP (Conservative), who sponsored the evening, and Mhairi Crawford, CEO of LGBT Youth Scotland.

The PinkNews Edinburgh Pride Reception was held at the Scottish Parliament in the Garden Lobby, hosting the first panel discussion dedicated to discussing LGBTQ+ issues.

Speaking to the Courier after the meeting, Mr Hoy said: "I was pleased to be able to speak at the PinkNews Pride event.

"The forum was lively and I explained that while I fully support the Scottish LGBT community, and support trans equality, I could not support the SNP's GRR laws as they did not provide adequate safeguards for women and young people.

"We want to deliver legislation which allows trans people to live their lives with dignity and respect, but which also ensures women's safety and rights are upheld.

"It is regrettable that the SNP have sought to turn this important issue into a constitutional row."