UKIP politician banned from Welsh Assembly after attacking ‘nutty’ transgender people in vile speech
A UKIP politician has been banned from speaking in the Welsh Assembly after he refused to apologise for openly transphobic comments he made in a speech.
UK Independence Party politician Gareth Bennett, an Assembly Member representing South Wales Central, attracted heckles of anger with his speech in the Welsh Assembly.
In his speech this week, Bennett claimed transgender equality would lead to a “total implosion” of society, describing transgender people as “nutty” and a “deviation from the norm” before insisting there must be “limits” to rights for minority groups.
He said: “We can’t go on as a society endlessly acceding to the demands of minorities. At some point, we have to recognise that granting more rights to a particular minority group will negatively impact on the rights of the majority of people in our society as a whole.
“We have a perfect example of this with the recent controversies over transgender rights. A Conservative Government at Westminster is proposing some fairly wide-ranging increases to the rights of transgender people.
“This could mean that anyone who wishes to identify as being of a gender different to their physical gender may be able to do so, simply by defining themselves as such.”
He added: “We are going to have a lot of fun with this over the next few years if we continue to proceed as a society with this kind of minority-obsessed nonsense.
“What we need to do is have a grown-up conversation about the issue of minority rights and accept that there have to be limits to them.
“There is only so much deviation from the norm that any society can take before that society completely implodes. And if we carry on down this road of appeasing the nuttiest elements of the transgender movement, then what we will face as a society, within a very short space of time, is total implosion.
After the comments, Labour AM Joyce Watson called a point of order, questioning Mr Bennett’s “disgraceful outpouring of homophobic rhetoric”
She said: “I want to ask him to come to this Chamber, and to consider the words that he has spoken, and to apologise for them. And I want to ask UKIP to ensure that never again do we have to sit in here and listen to that sort of rhetoric, within this Chamber.”
Presiding Officer Elin Jones also directed the UKIP official to apologise, saying: “Some of the comments were particularly hateful to the transgender community. This Chamber is not a platform to demean citizens of Wales, and everybody deserves our respect and our understanding.
“You were informed that this point of order was to be made, Gareth Bennett, and I would like to give you the opportunity to withdraw your comments from yesterday, and to apologise to this Chamber and to those who have taken offence.”
When Mr Bennett refused to apologise for the comments, the Presiding Officer said he wouldn’t be called to speak in the chamber until he did.
She said: “I have asked the Member to apologise and to withdraw his comments. He has said that he will not do so. That Member will not be called in this Chamber in 2018 until he has done so.”
Mr Bennett said he has “no intention” of apologising.
The Leader of UKIP in Wales, Neil Hamilton, has backed Mr Bennett in the row.
Mr Hamilton said: “I have had a frank exchange of views with the Presiding Officer this afternoon and we will have a further meeting over the recess.
“UKIP is a minority whose rights need to be protected as well. We were elected to confront the Cardiff Bay consensus and political correctness and will continue to do so.”
Mr Hamilton may be surprised to hear that there are nine protected characteristics in UK equality law: Age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity.
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Membership of UKIP is not a protected characteristic.
Andrew White, Director of Stonewall Cymru, said: “It is disappointing that UKIP’s Gareth Bennett has singled out trans people as somehow less deserving of human rights than others.
“It is particularly worrying that he chooses to demonstrate such narrowminded bullying behaviour in the chamber of our National Assembly.
“Mr Bennett should be aware that some of the people he is there to represent will be trans. Our recent report, LGBT in Wales shows hate crime against lesbian, gay bi and trans people has risen dramatically.
“In the last 12 months, more than half of trans people in Wales have been the victim of a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity.”