No action taken against a Glasgow councillor over ‘Alba trans obsessed’ Tweet

No action taken against a Glasgow councillor over ‘Alba trans obsessed’ Tweet

No action taken against Glasgow councilor over ‘Alba trans obsession’ Tweet (Image: News Paper)

No action will be taken against a Glasgow councilor over Twitter posts claiming the Alba party is “obsessed with transphobia”.

Complaints about comments made by Blair Anderson, of Glasgow’s Green group, were sent to the Standards Commission in July last year.

Councilor Anderson tweeted about a planned Alba Party event at the Record Factory, on Byres Road – which was later canceled by the venue and held elsewhere by the party.

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He said the pub welcomed the business of a party obsessed with transphobia and “led by a man with so many allegations of sexual harassment against him”, referring to Alex Salmond who was acquitted of sexual assault in March 2020.

After the event was cancelled, the councilor added “bigotry has consequences” and “transphobia is unacceptable, wherever it goes”.

After an investigation, the ethics standards commissioner recommended that Cllr Anderson’s behavior did not breach the councillors’ code of conduct.

He reported to the Standards Commission which decided not to ask for further investigation or hold a hearing. The Commission said that even if Cllr Anderson’s behavior was found to be “disrespectful or improper”, it was “highly likely” that he would be protected by freedom of expression.

The Ethical Standards Commissioner’s report found the Alba party’s position “on transgender rights was both publicly known and was one it was entitled to hold” and “opposition to gender recognition reform should not automatically be associated with ‘ an ‘obsession’ with transphobia, or more generally, bigotry”.

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He believed the “general link between the Alba Party and transphobia was not disrespectful” and although it would have been “more accurate” for Cllr Anderson to “make it clear that the Alba Party leader has been cleared of allegations of sexual misconduct “, the statement “had a factual basis”.

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The commissioner did say the comment was “unnecessary and outdated”, but added chr. Anderson “did not identify the Alba Party’s leader by name”.

After reviewing the evidence, the Standards Commission’s view was that the tweets “could probably be said to infer” that “the Alba party was both transphobic and bigoted”.

Such inferences “without foundation, may, on the face of it, be considered disrespectful”, he added. However, a hearing would have to consider “the respondent’s right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

The Commission believed that Cllr Anderson was likely to have protection as the “tweet concerned a matter of public and political interest, being the views of another political party and the conduct of its leader”.

“In this case, the Standards Commission considered that any inferences made by the Respondent about the Alba party being transphobic and bigoted would amount to value judgments,” its report added.

“Given the media coverage and public debate on the issue of transphobia and opposition to gender recognition reform, the Standards Commission accepted that such value judgments were likely to be made in good faith, regardless of whether they were accurate or not.”

The Commission found the Alba party’s leader was “completely and easily identifiable”, but the comment was “merely a statement of fact on a matter that was already in the public domain”.

Cllr Anderson declined to comment on the ruling.

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