ANDY Wightman has quit the Scottish Greens, hitting out at a lack of debate in the party over transgender and women’s rights.

He said his decision to leave came after MSPs overwhelmingly backed an amendment to the Forensic Medical Services Bill to allow the survivors of rape and sexual assaults to pick the sex rather than the gender of the person examining them after an attack. Only the LibDems and the Greens voted against.

Wightman spoke in the debate, saying at the time that the change in wording would make no real difference to the implementation of the law. He argued that the courts would interpret legislation in line with what the intentions of parliament were.

But in a letter to Green co-leaders, Patrick Harvie and Laura Slater, Wightman revealed that he had personally wanted to vote for the amendment. However, he was told by the party he would “face complaints and disciplinary action leading to possible suspension, deselection or expulsion”.

Wightman was criticised by Green activists last year after attending an Edinburgh University meeting on gender and women’s sex-based rights with feminist Julie Bindel. It was controversial on campus, with some students calling it transphobic.

In his letter Wightman says ever since he was admonished for attending that meeting, he has felt “saddened by the intolerance shown by some party members to an open and mature dialogue about the tensions and conflicts around questions of sex and gender in the context of transgender rights and women’s right”.

He added: “I understand that the Scottish Green Party has a strong commitment to equalities and trans rights. However, some of the language, approaches and postures of the party and its spokespeople have been provocative, alienating and confrontational for many women and men.

“It has become evident to me that the sort of open-minded public engagement I would like to see take place on this topic is incompatible with a party that has become very censorious of any deviation from an agreed line. Put simply, I cannot operate in this kind of environment and Thursday’s vote and the discussions that took place around it were the final confirmation of that.”

A spokesperson for the party said: “The Scottish Greens are focused on building a greener and fairer Scotland that tackles the climate emergency, so Andy Wightman’s decision not to be part of our movement anymore is a matter of deep disappointment.

“Land reform, empowering local democracy and community empowerment are core Green issues, and Andy’s contribution has been very important, but the Greens remain committed to carrying on this agenda without him. The Scottish Greens wish Andy well in whatever he decides to do next.”

It is understood Wightman has not yet decided if he will stand as an independent at the next Holyrood elections.

News of his resignation received a mixed response on social media. Tory MSP Adam Tomkins described Wightman as “one of the most informed, free-thinking and intelligent MSPs we have”.

The SNP’s Joan McAlpine tweeted: “Andy you are one of the most respected and progressive people in Scottish politics and this action shows why. As you say, it is not the difference of views on this issue that’s a problem, it’s the refusal to even listen to different views, and not just in the Greens.”

Connor Beaton, a former candidate for Rise disagreed. He tweeted: “Andy Wightman has a remarkable and impressive record of championing tenants’ rights and land reform in Holyrood. With this, he’s utterly disgraced himself – throwing trans people under the bus for plaudits from Tories and bigots.

“You’re leaving Holyrood? Good riddance.”