MY words are “very often” misrepresented, Nicola Sturgeon has said, as she criticised the "ridiculous" media coverage which followed her not wearing a mask inside a barbershop.

The First Minister made the comments while speaking to Greater Govanhill, a free quarterly magazine from her Holyrood constituency, as part of a wide-ranging interview touching on trans rights, the Ukraine war, and UK immigration policy among other things.

Sturgeon had previously promised to speak to the local publication during 2021’s Govanhill International Festival, arranged by the Govanhill Bath Community Trust.

The SNP leader was grilled by a group of young people learning journalism skills with the magazine thanks to funding from the National Lottery and a community grant from KFC.

Rhiannon Davies, Greater Govanhill’s founding editor, told The National the young interviewers had been given “free rein” with their questions, which led to a “good range” of topics being covered.

Davies said the magazine had been “directed and led locally” since it was first conceived in 2019 and printed in 2020, and that it would not have fit its “ethos” to have anyone but people from the community quiz the First Minister.

Asked about trans rights – with Southside Central having recently elected Glasgow’s first trans councillor – Sturgeon said she believed there was a “very vocal” minority which meant the debate around the topic was often “overstated”.

The SNP leader said she believed that both in society in general and in her party there was a “consensus” in favour of gender reform.

She added: “I accept that … concerns come from a place of sincerity [but] there are others trying to weaponise this debate for reasons of transphobia.”

“I’ve been a feminist for as long as I can remember and I get very frustrated at the suggestion that standing up for trans rights is somehow denigrating women’s rights.”

Sturgeon said there were “many other threats to women’s rights right now”, pointing to the battle around abortion in the US.

Elsewhere, the First Minister also said there were “parallels” between how women were treated during the witch trials and how they are received on social media today.

Asked about her apology to the women tried and killed for witchcraft, Sturgeon said: “Obviously women are no longer tried for being witches, but with the abuse that women get on social media and in society generally, and the way in which women in the criminal justice system are often treated and misunderstood, yeah I do think there are still parallels.

“I think recognising some of the historic aspects of this helps us to feel what we need to do to continue to sort things out.”

READ MORE: Why a campaign to pardon Scots women killed as witches is starkly relevant today

Sturgeon was further asked about comments she had made soon after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in which she called on Nato not to rule out a no-fly zone over the eastern European nation.

The remarks, which the First Minister has repeatedly stood by, led to her being branded “naive” by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.

However, Sturgeon told Greater Govanhill she believed her words had been misrepresented, “as is very often the case”.

She explained: “What I was saying more generally was questioning the decision on the part of Nato to be very explicit with Vladimir Putin about what was off the table, which could give him a free hand to think he could do certain things without consequences.

“I think, if your starting position with someone like him is to say that no matter what you do, we are not going to take action beyond a certain point, are we not giving him too much of a green light?”

The National:

The First Minister also touched on the topic of the Tory government’s immigration policy, which has come into stark focus following the refugee crisis sparked by the Ukraine war.

Sturgeon said that asylum and immigration was “clearly a key” aspect of the culture war the Tories are fighting.

She said: “I hate the whole debate about immigration in the UK. I think that it’s slightly better in Scotland but we shouldn’t be complacent.

“I absolutely abhor the Tory approach to immigration. That policy of sending people to Rwanda is one of the most disgusting things that I think I’ve ever heard. Coming from a Tory government, that is a big statement.”

READ MORE: Priti Patel accuses SNP of 'slur' against Rwanda after refugee plan questions

Elsewhere, Sturgeon said that she accepted intense media coverage was part of her job as First Minister, even if she thought it was "ridiculous".

She told the magazine: "Not that I would be stupid enough to do this obviously – but if I was to walk into a barbershop while it was still the law to wear masks and momentarily forget to put my mask on, then I may think it is disproportionate to get splattered across all the front pages."

She added: "I might think that's ridiculous, but I accept that because it's part of democracy."

The First Minister further covered rent controls, her speaking publicly about the menopause, Palestine, and child poverty in the wide-ranging interview.

Davies, said the young people involved had been “buzzing” after the interview and that she hoped the project could “empower more people to get involved in journalism”.

She added: “They were thrilled to ask the questions that mattered to them and to have that bridge between the leader of our country, of Scotland, and the local community.”

The interview with Nicola Sturgeon can be found in print in Greater Govanhill, which is available for free in the local area, or online on the magazine’s website