East Renfrewshire Tory group leader criticised for “transphobic” Facebook post featuring Greta Thunberg
Councillor Stewart Miller shared a photo of 17-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg on his social media page last month with a caption which stated her generation couldn’t decide “whether you’re a boy, or girl or ‘other’”.
A constituent said the post was transphobic and LGBT charity Stonewall Scotland said elected representatives should hold themselves to higher standards.
But Mr Miller said he shared the post as there had been a “deafening silence” from Ms Thunberg since the coronavirus pandemic began. He also said he believed the post was “politically correct”.
The photo of Ms Thunberg was captioned: “My generation will start a revolution.”
Below the image, another caption stated: “Your generation can’t work 40 hours in a week, can’t decide whether you’re a boy, or girl or ‘other’ or can’t eat meat without crying.”
When sharing the post, Mr Miller, a farmer, wrote: “Haven’t heard much fae the wee lassie fae Sweden. Perhaps my coos are not the worst things on the planet after all.”
One of Councillor Miller’s constituents complained about the post, describing it as “entirely inappropriate”.
The woman, who asked not to be named, added: “This man is a senior councillor and is setting the wrong example by posting a message like this.
“I can only imagine he thinks that Facebook post is funny but, in my view, it is transphobic – and I’m sure members of the LGBT community will be far from amused either.
“As one of his constituents, I expect my councillors to hold themselves to higher standards than this.”
Colin Macfarlane, a director at Stonewall Scotland, said: “People in positions of political power have a responsibility to champion everyone they represent, which includes LGBT people.
“Jokes about trans people’s identities are hurtful. Trans people need and deserve acceptance and equality.
“We should all be focused on tackling prejudices and achieving acceptance without exception for all LGBT people.”
Another complainant said: “It is unfortunate to have someone who has such a position of influence and public trust sharing such hateful transphobic tropes online.”
In response to the complaints, Mr Miller said: “My comment is wholly restricted to the fact that there has been a deafening silence from the young lady from Sweden whilst the world comes to terms with the current situation and that perhaps cattle might not be the biggest scourge on the planet today, despite all the things that have been said.
“The post, that had been copied, far from being transphobic was actually politically correct in as much as it stated that some people thought of themselves as male or female but others thought of themselves differently, hence the reference to ‘others’.
“Personally, I didn’t find this funny as it had a very serious message as we were about to enter lockdown at that time and Ms Thunberg’s message might be lost with the coronavirus pandemic taking up all the news.”
He also said it was “fantastic” the constituent had “taken it upon themselves, obviously at great sacrifice themselves, to trawl through my Facebook page”.