NICOLA Sturgeon has accused critics of Holyrood’s gender reforms of using the debates to “cloak” their transphobia, misogyny and racism.

The First Minister made the comments on The News Agents podcast, set to be released on Friday afternoon.

Speaking to journalist Lewis Goodall, the FM spoke on a wide range of topics, including whether or not she thought the Tories would attempt to abolish the Scottish Parliament.

It comes as an SNP MP laid a written declaration at the Council of Europe urging the UK Government to U-turn on their use of a Section 35 order.

READ MORE: Gender bill: What MSPs would have asked Alister Jack at Holyrood

Last week, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack used the provision in the Scotland Act to stop the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Act from becoming law and receiving royal assent.

The move caused outrage among supporters of the bill and those in civic and women’s groups in Scotland. However, some critics of the bill had been calling for the UK Government to intervene.

It emerged on Thursday that SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron had written to Jack asking him to find a "resolution" to the gender bill.

Speaking on the podcast, the FM said that she had doubts over the sincerity of many critics of the bill who were claiming to be concerned about the impact on women’s rights.

The National: The gender reform debate has been contentiousThe gender reform debate has been contentious (Image: PA)

Harry Potter author JK Rowling previously caused a stir when she wore a T-shirt which called the FM a “destroyer of women’s rights” last year.

Sturgeon said: “I have heard people, politicians, claiming to be defenders of women's rights who I'd never heard defend women's rights in the past.

“In fact, I've heard some support policies ... that run counter to women's rights.

"We have legislation looming later in this parliament on criminal justice reform to try to deal with issues of low conviction rates for rape and sexual assault, we are likely to be dealing with legislation in months to come around abortion buffer zones.

“And I think it will be interesting to see how many of the so-called defenders of women's rights in the context of the trans debate suddenly don't think that all women's rights are actually important.

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“And there are some people that I think have decided to use women's rights as a sort of cloak of acceptability to cover up what is transphobia.”

The FM added that she wanted to be “clear” she did not brand everyone who opposes the bill with the same brush.

However, she added: “But there are people who have opposed this bill that cloak themselves in women's rights to make it acceptable, but just as they're transphobic you'll also find that they're deeply misogynist, often homophobic, possibly some of them racist as well.”

It comes as Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Keir Starmer was right not to oppose the UK Government’s decision to block the bill.

Listen to the full interview on The News Agents podcast this afternoon on Global Player.