A candidate for the rectorship at the University of Aberdeen has described the provision of gender neutral toilets as “an ideology which is dangerous and must be stopped.”

Angus Hepburn was recorded airing his views during a panel debate at the University on Monday, where he also states he will “protect us, protect men, protect women from being able to have a space or not having to worry about not having some policies which are not popular.” (Sic)

Hepburn goes on to explain that he believes more than 1% of the toilets on University property are already gender neutral and so “we dont need anymore.”

When challenged by an audience member who asks “What about protecting non-binary people like me?” Hepburn was not able to offer a response.

In a statement provided Thursday, an Aberdeen University spokesperson told us:

“We are aware of concerns over comments made by a candidate during a Rectorial Election hustings event that took place at the University on Monday. This event was organised and overseen by the Student Election Committee, a body comprising of students that was introduced following the last election in order to bring enhanced oversight to the process.”

“Having carefully reviewed the circumstances, both the Student Election Committee and the University are satisfied that the moderator’s response was proportionate and sought to move the discussion on quickly, in a constructive manner. The University is currently considering an individual complaint in respect of the matter.”

The panel consisted of 5 candidates who are (L to R in the picture) Maggie Chapman, Fiona Kennedy, James Steele, Isra Khan and Angus Hepburn.

Scottish Green Party Co-Convener, Maggie Chapman, and fellow candidate Fiona Kennedy, were also present in November 2017 when Mr Hepburn was challenged on his alleged homophobic views in a separate incident.

Maggie told us:

“The idea that trans and non-binary people pose any threat to men and women is simply ridiculous. They might force people to confront their bigotry, prejudice and hatred of difference, but to think that men and women need protection from this is utter nonsense. I am proud to stand with trans and non-binary people, and will try to be better and speaking up in the face of such hatred and discrimination.”

“I am appalled by what Angus Hepburn said yesterday. The university had the opportunity to challenge his homophobia and transphobia in the November elections, and chose to ‘have a friendly chat with him’ instead because he has Asperger’s. That, in itself, is just awful: to say that someone can get away with such hate speech because of a condition like Asperger’s is so deeply irresponsible, and also insulting to all those people with Asperger’s and other similar conditions who are not transphobes/homophobes. Fiona Kennedy, seen laughing along in the video, said that ‘he is such a nice young man’ and that we (my campaign team members) were bullying him when we challenged him on his hate speech. She has aided and supported him all along, and I think people need to know this too.”

“Regarding gender-neutral toilets: I have always supported these. We all use gender neutral toilets in our homes, and I think that having facilities that are designed to exclude people by their binary identity nature is completely unacceptable.”

Responding to criticism on social media, fellow candidate Fiona Kennedy released a short statement via her Facebook account in which she states she was ‘smiling to encourage’ the audience member to continue:

The Convener of the University’s LGBTI society said:

“The role of a rector is to be a voice for students, closing the void between students and management. Hearing transphobic language used at the hustings is just unacceptable, the role of a rector is supposed to bring people closer together, not divide us further.”

We’ve contacted the University for comment on the exchange, as well as Angus Hepburn. There has been no response to our request for clarification or comment.

The short video can be seen here.

More to follow.

Pic credit: Myshele Haywood

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