Women's rights activists were 'offensive' to me too, says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon - Jeff Overs/BBC
Nicola Sturgeon - Jeff Overs/BBC

Nicola Sturgeon has condemned placards calling to “decapitate terfs” at a rally against Westminster's veto of the Scottish gender reform bill, but complained about feminists being “offensive” to her too.

The First Minister said she condemned calls for gender critical women to be beheaded at the Rally for Trans Equality in Glasgow on Saturday, but also accused opponents of saying “completely unacceptable” things about her.

Four SNP politicians were pictured at the rally smiling in front of a sign emblazoned with the decapitation slogan, alongside an image of a guillotine. Another sign nearby stated: “I eat terfs and Tories.”

Terf is an acronym for 'trans exclusionary radical feminist', a term often used as a slur against women who believe biological men cannot become women.

The SNP politicians pictured in front of the placard - Alison Thewliss, Kirsten Oswald, Stewart McDonald and Kaukab Stewart - claim not to have noticed it.

JK Rowling, the Harry Potter author, mocked their denial, tweeting: “I too beam with delight when having my photograph taken with things of which I am entirely unaware.”

Glasgow - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Glasgow - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Condemning the placards on Monday, Ms Sturgeon told a press conference: “The placards that I have seen in no way - absolutely no way shape or form - accord with my views and I would condemn the way in which those views were expressed and the views that were expressed there.

“And I don't think it's fair or credible to suggest that the elected representatives that were there in any way share or condone those views.”

But she added that she had also been subjected to abuse about her gender reforms at feminist rallies.

“There have been placards, signs, about me that were offensive and in my view completely unacceptable,” she said.

“We've all got a responsibility to express ourselves, particularly elected representatives, in ways that we think are appropriate.”

While Ms Sturgeon did not state which slogans she was referring to, women held up banners branding her a “destroyer of women's rights” at a rally at Holyrood in December. Other placards branded her the “grinch who stole women’s rights”.

Scotland - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Scotland - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Ms Sturgeon was later challenged over comparing “offensive” placards about her, to those which advocated violence against women.

“Anything that suggests violence is completely beyond the pale and of a different order to other offensive things,” she said.

“Although I take the view that all offensive ways of expressing things should be avoided.

“The reason I was referring to placards about me was not to draw necessarily an equivalence between those and placards at the demonstration on Saturday.

“It was to make the point that I don’t assume when I see placards being offensive about me, I don’t assume everyone at that demonstration endorses or condones that.”

The rally in Glasgow was held to protest against the UK Government's decision to block Ms Sturgeon’s gender reforms due to fears they would harm women’s rights. The SNP's plans would make it far easier for Scots to legally change their sex.

Police said they have launched an investigation into the offensive placards.