A Conservative MSP has issued an apology after suggesting there is a link between transgender people and those with learning difficulties.
In a now-deleted tweet, Stephen Kerr criticised the Scottish Government’s gender reform legislation, which aims to make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender.
The Central Scotland MSP posted: “The coming of a new First Minister brought the chance to review the Gender Reform Bill, and ask questions Sturgeon didn’t bother with.
“Why are more young people wanting to change their gender? Is there a link with having learning/development disabilities?
“But they don’t care.”
Sharing the tweet, SNP councillor Fatima Joji said: “I have no words. Look at that second paragraph. Is he for real?”
Kerr apologised for the tweet, saying a member of staff had tweeted it, adding that it “does not reflect my views”.
The post has now been deleted and replaced with a new tweet, which reads: “The change of First Minister gave the chance for the ScotGov to review the Gender Reform bill, and ask questions which weren’t addressed previously.
“Most importantly, ScotGov could reconsider their opposition to some very sensible opposition amendments. But it hasn’t happened.”
Kerr told The National newspaper: “I take full responsibility for everything on my Twitter and would like to apologise for any offence caused.
“The tweet was written in haste by a member of my team and then deleted as it does not reflect my views.”
Scottish Green MSP, Maggie Chapman, said: “This is exactly the kind of language that has seen transphobic hate crime triple in recent years.
“The longer the Tories are in power the worse their attacks on minority groups get, with no concern about where promoting such hate will lead, the damage it will do, or the lives it will ruin.
“Today Stephen Kerr has recognised that he went too far and rowed his comments back. I hope he’ll take this moment to reflect on his actions.
“But I fully expect that tomorrow he’ll be back with fresh attacks and disinformation instead.”
Nearly all Tory MSPs voted against the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which was passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament.
Kerr’s tweet comes in response to the First Minister’s announcement this week that he will take the UK Government to court over its decision to block the bill.
Humza Yousaf claimed the “democratic will of Scotland’s Parliament is under attack”.
Scottish Government, he said, has a “duty to defend democracy and devolution”.
The Scottish Conservatives criticised the move, accusing the government of wasting taxpayer money on a battle they are likely to lose.
The Scottish Conservatives have been approached for comment.