THE Presiding Officer has been forced to defend including trans women at an event aiming to encourage participation in politics after gender-critical campaigners claimed the Parliament acted “unlawfully”.

Alison Johnstone, who hosted the event with Elect Her, argued that the event complied with provisions of the Equality Act after For Women Scotland (FWS) complained that it did not.

Trina Brudge, co-founder of FWS, wrote to Elect Her and the PO asking them to only permit biological women to the event held in Holyrood on Saturday June 24.

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FWS claimed that trans attendees, including National columnist and NUS president Ellie Gomersall, should have been excluded to allow biological women to attend.

Johnstone and Elect Her respond to say that the Parliament complied with equality law throughout the event.

Gender-critical campaigners the Scottish Feminist Network claimed that trans attendees “took a female’s space”.

FWS claimed that a previous court ruling meant that “only women, as a biological sex class, attend women-only events”.

"The focus of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body in hosting this event organised by Elect Her is to encourage women into politics,” Johnstone said, in response to the complaints.

"The event aims to encourage women and support them to explore democratic participation, through open and supportive conversations with a view to advancing more women into political office.

“In designing and organising the event, compliance with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 has been assessed in relation to undertaking positive action and hosting an event as a single sex space.

“Such spaces are permitted under the Equality Act 2010, provided that due regard has been given to an assessment of any potential discrimination against persons with other protected characteristics.

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"For the purpose of this event, we are satisfied that the inclusion of transwomen and non-binary people is compliant with the Equality Act 2010 and the relevant Statutory Code of Practice.

“This is consistent with the approach taken when a similar event was held in the Parliament in 2019."

Elect Her said: "We appreciate that this issue is an incredibly fraught one, especially in light of recent legislative debates.

The National: Gomersall was targetted by gender critical campaigners for attending the eventGomersall was targetted by gender critical campaigners for attending the event

“There are a diverse range of views on the matter, many of which are reflected within our organisation, and we respect the perspectives of those on all sides.

"We are confident that the admissions policy for the event that we are running on 24th June is in line with existing equalities legislation in Scotland and we will be proceeding with the event on that basis given this will be held at the Scottish Parliament."

Tweeting after the event, Scottish Greens campaigner Gomersall said: "A real joy to join hundreds of fabulous women in the Scottish Parliament yesterday for this brilliant event by Elect Her. I couldn't have described it better- it was truly soul-nourishing."

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FWS posted a screenshot of Gomersall’s tweet, adding: “This event was oversubscribed. Ellie is legally and biologically male, and according to the ruling in our JR, should not be eligible to take advantage of a scheme designed for women.

“We wrote to @ElectHer_UK saying this was unlawful.”

After a pile-on from anti-trans accounts, Gomersall said: "I'll never not find it hilarious the number of people who spent significant chunks of their day sending me abuse I'll never see."