Newspaper editors accused of stirring up mass ‘transphobia’ have responded by promoting the importance of free speech.
Labour MP Stephen Doughty claimed the papers were generating a negative “atmosphere”, during a parliamentary inquiry on hate crime.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mirror, and the Daily Express were represented, alongside DMG Media, which owns the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Metro.
Doughty, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “There appears to me to be a concerted effort by certain publications at the moment to promote some extremely unpleasant transgender hate material”.
He listed a number of headlines he found offensive, but particularly objected to an opinion piece by The Times columnist Janice Turner.
Responding to the criticism, Assistant Editor of The Times Ian Brunskill said that there is a “very fierce debate” on the issue.
Brunskill explained that Turner has been a prominent voice in the debate over Government plans to allow people to legally change sex by ‘self-declaration’.
He added that she has “attracted massive critism” from trans activists for her vocal opposition to the plans.
“It has become about self-definition. This is the toxic issue here. Janice has taken quite a firm view on that”, he said.
Ian MacGregor, former Editor of Telegraph Media Group also backed the press’s right to free speech.
He said: “It is important that our columnists and writers are entitled to their opinion in this world. Sometimes that can be upsetting.
“I would not be encouraging anyone to upset anyone, but the issues are quite sensitive. I think we reserve the right to upset if we have to, because these issues are important to discuss.”