Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson has spoken out after being the victim of homophobic abuse on a popular social media site.
Ms. Davidson was tweeted by an SNP member using the name Laird Mark O’Callaghan: “@RuthDavidsonMSP needs a good fuck, not a lesbian battery one, but a real cock one, miserable cunt that she is. Tory fanny muncher.”
No stranger to provocation and homophobic abuse, the Conservative leader responded: “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Bet she’s really proud of you.”
Condemnation from various parties has followed and the SNP has confirmed that “O’Callaghan” has been “identified and suspended” by the party. It is not uncommon for social media trolls to hide behind pseudonyms.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took to twitter to show her support for Ms. Davidson, tweeting: “Homophobic abuse of @RuthDavidsonMSP or anyone else is unacceptable. End of. Anyone engaging in it is no friend of my party.” She also took the opportunity to reiterate these sentiments during First Minister’s Questions today, making clear that she “condemn[s] unreservedly the vile homophobic abuse that was being directed at Ruth Davidson on Twitter last night and this morning”.
She added: “The individual in question in that case has been identified and this morning suspended from membership of the SNP pending full disciplinary processes.”
Support for Ms. Davidson has been forthcoming from across the political spectrum, with Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume congratulating her for “calling out dreadful homophobic bullying” and out former MSP Margaret Smith tweeting “I’m late to this but is it ok if I give you a wee cyber hug ? U’re standing up 4 all of us. Noone should have to take this.”
The Scottish Conservative Leader has experienced on-line homophobia previously. During the independence debate in 2014 Davidson was highlighted on social media by a former candidate for the Scottish Parliament who questioned her qualification of speaking about family values due to her sexual orientation.
Ms. Davidson has confirmed that the tweeter had contacted her to apologise: “Mark phoned my office… [He] showed genuine contrition and says he won’t make anti-gay statements again. I accepted his apology.”
This is the latest of a number of highly abusive tweets aimed at politicians and appears to be party of a worrying trend.
Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, welcomed the SNP’s actions in suspending the member: “The vile and offensive language aimed at Ms Davidson is unacceptable. Sadly, our research shows this kind of abuse happens every day to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, not only online but in our playgrounds, our workplaces, on our streets and in our wider community.
“That’s why we launched our No Bystanders campaign which over 13,000 people have signed so far pledging to not stand back when they hear or see all forms of bullying.”