EXCLUSIVE: Candidate comments have caused “untold damage” to Green Party reputation, according to source

The reputation of the Green Party has been damaged following candidate Peter Garbutt’s comments describing trans rights activism as “aggressive” and “offering difficulties”, according to a source.

The Green Party member, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I think Peter has done pretty untold damage to the reputation of the party with what he’s said.”

The source also claimed the comments have had an impact on the party’s LGBT voter base ahead of voting in Thursday’s local election.

They said: “I know that there are a number of LGBT voters in Nether Edge and Sharrow, who are perennial Green voters, who are planning on not voting Green or spoiling their ballot specifically because of this.”

The source also believes that the Green Party should have distanced itself from the remarks, rather than defending them.

After the Twitter comments surfaced, Green Party councillor Douglas Johnson said on behalf of the party: “What characterises the Green Party is respect for a variety of views and we want open debate. We try not to get too drawn into one ideology, there is a problem with dogmatic thinking.”

Mr Garbutt’s Tweets from the last few months referred to the “recognition of a problem” as regards trans women in sport, and an implied claim trans women have an advantage in sport.

He also said the trans rights campaign is “aggressive and challenges women’s rights”.

The Green Party source said the problem is not with policy, but with individuals within the party: “We have the most pro-trans policy of any party.  It’s just a shame that sometimes it doesn’t leak through to an individual level.

“It really isn’t the view of the Green Party and it doesn’t reflect the Green Party ethos. Peter really should never have said it.”

Mr Garbutt stands by the comments and said: “There’s nothing in me that says trans people can’t exist. But I think with rights come responsibilities and I think if you’ve got rights you’ve got to respect other people’s rights and that’s not happening.

“I am concerned that people are trying to close down debate when debate is needed.”

The Sheffield Green Party have been contacted but did not provide a comment.