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  1. ITV Report

AM storms out of Senedd after transgender comments backlash

Welsh Assembly Member Gareth Bennett has stormed out of plenary after being banned from speaking in the Senedd chamber over comments he made about the transgender community.

Presiding Officer Elin Jones said Mr Bennett had refused to apologise for the comments and therefore wouldn't be allowed to speak on matters until he did.

It comes after the UKIP member caused outrage amongst his peers and members of the transgender community after making comments about the rights of minority groups.

Speaking in the Senedd yesterday, the member who represents South Wales Central, said that granting more rights to a particular minority group will negatively impact on the rights of the majority of people in society.

During his speech, gasps and heckling could be heard by other Assembly Members after he also stated that there needed to be limits to minority rights, namely those of transgender people.

There is only so much deviation from the norm that any society can take before that society completely implodes and if we carry on down this road of appeasing the nuttiest elements of the transgender movement, then what we will face as a society within a very short space of time is total implosion.

– Gareth Bennett AM, UKIP

He made the comments in relation to proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which hopes to make it easier for trans people to become their desired gender and the gender they feel they are.

Watch Rob Osborne's report on yesterday's events:

Our political reporter Owain Phillips spoke to Mr. Bennett today and he refused to apologise for his comments.

Cat Burton has reacted to the comments made by Gareth Bennett. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Cat Burton is transgender and has been championing transgender rights and diversity for a number of years.

She spoke to ITV Cymru Wales about Mr Bennett's comments.

I can't believe how ill-informed he is. People in a position of transitioning who are already experiencing adverse public reaction because they are fairly obvious don't need people to stir up hatred against them and I certainly think that speech did just that.

– Cat Burton

LGBTQ campaign group, Stonewall, has also reacted to Mr Bennett's comments, stating he was 'demonstrating narrowminded bullying behaviour'.

It is disappointing that UKIP’s Gareth Bennett has singled out trans people as somehow less deserving of human rights than others. It is particularly worrying that he chooses to demonstrate such narrowminded bullying behaviour in the chamber of our National Assembly.

Mr Bennett should be aware that some of the people he is there to represent will be trans. Our recent report, LGBT in Wales shows hate crime against lesbian, gay bi and trans people has risen dramatically. In the last 12 months, more than half of trans people in Wales have been the victim of a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity.

– Andrew White, Director of Stonewall Cymru

Following Bennett's dismissal UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton said his party was a 'minority whose rights need to be protected'.

I have had a frank exchange of views with the Presiding Officer this afternoon and we will have a further meeting over the recess. UKIP is a minority whose rights need to be protected as well. We were elected to confront the Cardiff Bay consensus and political correctness and will continue to do so.

– Neil Hamilton

It's not the first time the UKIP AM has caused controversy with his comments relating to minority groups. He previously said it was possible Eastern European immigrants were responsible for the capital’s litter problems.

It led to a fellow UKIP member stepping down from running in the Assembly Elections.