Stuart Campbell, Wings Over Scotland

Claims SNP funding ‘paedophile charter’ lobbying groups are FFS

Ferret Fact Service | Scotland's impartial fact check project

A blog post alleging that the SNP has channelled public funding to voluntary groups that advocate lowering the age of consent to 10 has provoked controversy on social media.

The post on the Wings Over Scotland blog amplified comments attributed to Alba Party candidate for Central Scotland, Margaret Lynch.

A tweet on Saturday 10 April by another party supporter claimed Lynch had argued in an online party forum for women that LGBT+ groups in Scotland were lobbying to reduce the age of consent to 10. 

Although the tweet was subsequently deleted, screen grabs of it continued to be shared online and Lynch has subsequently re-shared other tweets making similar arguments from her Twitter account.

The author of the Wings Over Scotland blog developed the claims further. In a post he described a document said to provide evidence for the claims as a ‘paedophile charter,’ and concluded the SNP are “paying lobby groups with your money to try to reduce the age of consent in Scotland to 10”.

This blog post was subsequently shared on Twitter by Alba Party MP and Scottish Parliamentary candidate, Neale Hanvey. It was also shared repeatedly on Twitter, and in a number of Facebook groups. 

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and rated it FFS.

Evidence

The claim relies on a incorrect reading of a document called the . It was produced by the Women’s Rights Caucus in response to a declaration adopted by UN’s  Commission on the Status of Women.

The Women’s Rights Caucus describes itself as a “global coalition of more than 200 organizations working to advance women’s human rights”.

The declaration was published on the website of many groups who support it, including an organisation called the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, known as ILGA World. It was on this organisation that the Wings Over Scotland blog focused.

The Feminist Declaration document hosted on the site is 16 pages long and approximately one year old. 

It includes a passage that supports moves to: “End the criminalization and stigmatization of adolescents’ sexuality, and ensure and promote a positive approach to young people’s and adolescents’ sexuality that enables, recognizes, and respects their agency to make informed and independent decisions on matters concerning their bodily autonomy, pleasure and fundamental freedoms.”

The declaration also says: “Eliminate all laws and policies that punish or criminalize same-sex intimacy, gender affirmation, abortion, HIV transmission non-disclosure and exposure, or that limit the exercise of bodily autonomy, including laws limiting legal capacity of adolescents, people with disabilities or other groups to provide consent to sex or sexual and reproductive health services or laws authorizing non-consensual abortion, sterilization, or contraceptive use.”

The Wings Over Scotland blog has selectively quoted from this paragraph to focus on the phrase “consent to sex,” and cuts some of the the wider context, which backs support for sexual and reproductive health services. 

The document does not explicitly make any proposal to lower the age of consent, nor does it give a specific number that the age of consent should be set at. 

The Wings Over Scotland blog post then goes on to assume that the Feminist Declaration document is using the definition of adolescent as that suggested by the (WHO). The author cites a WHO web page that defines an adolescent as someone aged 10-19. 

The Declaration itself does not define an adolescent as any specific age and does not make any reference to the WHO, however Wings Over Scotland suggests the proposals in the Declaration “would make it legal for 19-year-olds to have sex with 10-year-olds”. 

This claim is not backed up by any evidence, and the Feminist Declaration does not mention or endorse this.

Additionally, IGLA World told Ferret Fact Service that it does not advocate paedophilia, and that the interpretation of the Declaration promoted by the Wings Over Scotland is “false” and “obtuse”.

The blog author goes on to falsely claim this means that 200 organisations which supported the Declaration also seek to lower the age of consent to sex to age 10, despite that not featuring in the document.

Two Scottish organisations are listed as members of ILGA World on another part of the website. They are Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland. 

Stonewall Scotland published an outright denial of the claim attributed to Lynch.

In a tweet posted in response to the claims the organisation said: “Today a Scottish parliamentary candidate stated that we are campaigning to lower the age of consent. This is categorically untrue. Such claims are dangerous and irresponsible and we would urge those making or sharing these claims to stop.”

LGBT Youth confirmed to Ferret Fact Service that they have not lobbied, or received funding, to lower the age of consent to 10.

A spokesperson for IGLA World told Ferret Fact Service that their members are screened thoroughly prior to joining, and that any current or prospective members found to have advocated for paedophilia would be expelled.

Wings Over Scotland further claims that, as these two Scottish organisations received funding from the Scottish Government, the “the SNP are indeed paying lobby groups with your money to try to reduce the age of consent in Scotland to 10”. This is not accurate.

A spokesperson for The Scottish Government confirmed to The Ferret Fact Service it has never funded any organisation to campaign for, or promote, any policy that would reduce the age of consent for sex to 10.

The Scottish Government spokesperson also said that it has no record of lobbying activity by any third party organisation promoting this policy.

The two groups mentioned are not campaigning to reduce the age of consent to 10, and the document to which the blog’s author refers to does not advocate a reduction of the age of consent to 10. 

Ferret Fact Service verdict: FFS

The claims made by Wings Over Scotland are false. There is no evidence within the blog to support the claim that these organisations support lowering the age of consent to age 10, and the SNP is not funding any organisations which are. The characterisation of the Feminist Declaration as a ‘paedophile charter’ is not accurate.

FFS! (For Facts’ Sake) – The claim is baseless, ridiculous and/or logically impossible!

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, and a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Want to suggest a fact check? Go to ideas.theferret.scot, email us at factcheck@theferret.scot or join our Facebook group.

In response to an evidence request, , the author of the blog posts at Wings Over Scotland, did not provide additional information. All other parties mentioned in this fact check were contacted by Ferret Fact Service

Photo credit: Euan Cherry/WENN/Alamy

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