Perthshire Pride, pictured here in 2019, is among the groups withdrawing from Perth and Kinross Council (Twitter/@PerthshirePride)
Three LGBT+ groups have withdrawn from Scotland’s Perth and Kinross Council after one of its staff allegedly spread “smears” claiming they were working to lower the age of consent to 10-years-old.
Pink Saltire, Perthshire Pride and PKAVS Third Sector Interface have ceased all equalities work for Perth and Kinross Council for 30 days in protest at the shocking comments, reportedly made by a council employee speaking in a personal capacity at a Scottish Parliament election conference.
The staff member, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also linked to calls to defund LGBT+ organisations and refuting “queer theory”.
“It is disappointing to us that an employee of Perth and Kinross Council, particularly one with a key role working with families and communities, would espouse such dangerous rhetoric, which contradicts the values of dignity and respect enshrined within our shared community plan,” the groups said in a joint statement.
“In developing that plan, community partners were agreed that promoting equality and supporting those protected by equalities legislation was a key priority.
“We remain concerned that the lack of responsibility from this individual presents a real risk of seriously undermining the local partnerships which have undertaken positive work around equalities in recent years,” they continued.
Perth and Kinross Council denies ‘untrue’ smear claims
The charities first lodged a complaint with the council on 12 April, but decided to publicly escalate the matter after becoming “frustrated by the length of time taken to respond”.
Perth and Kinross Council finally issued a response on 24 June, 11 weeks from the initial concern being raised. They said that they had upheld the complaint, in so far as to confirm what was said, and acknowledged that the alleged accusations were “untrue”.
The charities say the alleged smear “risks the positive reputation around equalities which the council and its partners have worked so hard to cultivate over recent years”. They are now calling for further action, including an apology and a retraction from the employee in question.
“[We] feel a responsibility to our stakeholders and beneficiaries, in the third sector and our local communities, to impress upon Perth and Kinross Council the seriousness of this issue,” they said.
“We have therefore decided to withdraw from equalities work with Perth and Kinross Council for a period of 30 days.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokesperson told the Daily Record: “We do not comment on individual members of staff. Perth and Kinross Council is committed to equality and delivering services which are fair and inclusive for all of our citizens.
“We remain committed to working with the people of Perth and Kinross and organisations like Pink Saltire, Perthshire Pride and PKAVS to combat discrimination and promote better human rights.”
The charities say the response “casts significant doubt on Perth and Kinross Council’s ability to protect LGBT people, and others, from emotional distress”.
PinkNews has contacted Perth and Kinross Council for comment.