TORY MSPs have been accused of helping campaigners who oppose Scotland’s gender reform fill the public gallery with their allies, to the exclusion of anyone else.

A parliamentary staffer – who has asked to remain anonymous – said that Conservative MSPs were “playing an active part in filling the public gallery” with campaigners who do not want to see the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill pass.

The accusation came after Beth Douglas, a co-convener of the Rainbow Greens, revealed leaked messages between gender critical activists in which they planned to “book up all the tickets” for a different hearing relating to the bill.

“We need ALL the seats next week and can’t afford any TRAs [trans rights activists]”, one message leaked from an activists’ group chat read.

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The parliamentary staffer who spoke to Douglas and The National said it had become clear about two weeks before the Stage 3 hearing of the bill – which will take place on December 20 and 21 – that gender critical activists “were asking all MSPs for tickets for the public gallery”.

They said that activists had approached multiple MSPs asking for their help getting tickets, and that often the Parliament’s Visitor Services Team confirmed they already had access thanks to Conservative members.

“The Tories are playing an active part in filling the public gallery with TERFs [trans-exclusionary radical feminists]”, the staffer said.

The staffer said they had “serious concerns that those in the public gallery are going to cause significant disruption to proceedings” adding that they also expected deliberate delaying tactics to be deployed by “Tory/other anti-GRR MSPs”.

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This has seemingly already come to pass, with the Conservatives seeking to move the debate into the New Year with a motion they failed to circulate to MSPs, leading to accusations from the Scottish Greens’ Ross Greer that they were “trying to filibuster” the process.

Douglas told The National that it was “very sad to see bad actors manipulate the Scottish Parliament’s ticketing system to block the public, trans allies, but most of all trans people from attending meetings about this bill”.

She went on: "The Scottish Parliament should be open to everyone and its systems shouldn’t be exploited in the name of prejudice.”

Gender critical activists have made headlines from the public section of previous hearings linked to the GRR bill. In mid-November, one such activist was evicted from a hearing of the equalities committee for refusing to remove a scarf in the suffragette colours which staff said could be linked to the gender critical movement.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament said: “As with any Chamber business, Members can book tickets for their constituents to view parliamentary proceedings. It is up to each Member who they chose to invite.

“MSPs from all parties who requested tickets have received these for the Stage 3 consideration of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.”

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A spokesperson for the Scottish Feminist Network said that women in their regional groups had applied for tickets following the guidance from the Scottish Parliament.

They went on: “Women started by contacting their own MSPs, initially, and then applied for tickets through the Parliamentary booking system, available to anyone with an email address or telephone number. As Parliament can confirm, most of these requests were unsuccessful.

“We're not sure what mystical powers we are being accused of but we'd encourage any politically engaged citizens to follow the same advice, it's really very straight forward.”

The Scottish Tories were also approached for comment.