A HOLYROOD committee debating changes to gender law has been suspended after a row broke out over claims a member of the public was ejected from the meeting for wearing a Suffragette scarf.

A meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s equalities committee on Tuesday morning was taken into private for more than 20 minutes after an MSP raised concerns that a woman in the public gallery had been removed for wearing a purple, white and green scarf.

The colours signify the early 20th century campaign for women’s right to vote and are now used by feminists opposed to changes to gender recognition law.

Holyrood's equalities committee was meeting to discuss the Scottish Government's Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would change the law to make it easier for trans people to change their legally recognised sex. 

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Gender critical feminists are opposed to the changes because they fear it erases the difference between sex and gender and claim it would make it easier for predatory men to access single-sex spaces. 

A woman had been asked to take off a scarf bearing the colours on the basis officials viewed them in breach of parliament rules banning public visitors displaying political banners. 

She refused and was told she was not able to re-enter the meeting. 

The Presiding Officer for the Scottish Parliament later issued an apology to the woman and said the colours were not banned. 

Russell Findlay, a Conservative member of the committee raised the matter during the meeting, which was then promptly moved into private and the cameras switched off while members discussed the matter.

Findlay said: “It has been noted on social media that a member of the public who was present was wearing a scarf in the colours of purple, white and green and has been asked to either remove the scarf or leave the room.

“Can I seek some guidance?”

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Joe Fitzpatrick, the chair of the committee then hurriedly said the matter would be dealt with in private.

Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, who is at odds with most of her party on the issue of gender recognition reform, has spoken out on the matter on social media.

She said: “It seems no rule has been broken so this woman should be readmitted or the [Scottish Parliament] could face a claim of discrimination on the grounds of belief, particularly where MSPs are permitted to wear rainbow colours. This is not my Scotland.”

Alison Johnstone, Holyrood's Presiding Officer addressed the issue later in the day and said sorry to the woman in question. 

She said: "Let me make one thing crystal clear, suffrage colours are not, and never have been, banned at the Scottish Parliament.

"We actively support and promote universal suffrage in a number of ways at Holyrood and will continue to do so.

“I would like to advise the chamber that the action taken this morning was not prompted by any of the members of the committee.

“The action taken was an error, and I would like to apologise on behalf of the parliament.

"The wearing of a scarf in those colours does not, in itself, breach the visitor code of conduct. 

"The Parliament wishes people to engage with the democratic process, including observing elected representatives debate and make the law of the country.”