Wales politics

UKIP AM Gareth Bennett's speech ban is lifted

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Media captionGareth Bennett: "I'm sorry that people took offence at what I said"

A ban preventing a UKIP AM speaking in the Senedd has been lifted after Gareth Bennett apologised for comments he made about transgender rights.

In December, Mr Bennett claimed society could implode if there was too much "deviation from the norm".

On Wednesday, he said he was "sorry that people took offence" but that he stood by the views he had expressed.

Presiding Officer Elin Jones accepted the apology and warned AMs to always use "non-discriminatory" language.

Mr Bennett, UKIP AM for South Wales Central, told Ms Jones: "I'm sorry that people took offence at what I said and I wish to make it clear that I respect your authority as chair.

"I do, however, stand by the views I expressed about the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Bill."

She responded: "I accept your apology, Gareth Bennett, and you may be assured that I'll always uphold the right of any member in this chamber to air views that are unpalatable to other members, and to others as well.

"But all members need to do so using language that is both parliamentary and non-discriminatory at all times."

'Particularly hateful'

Mr Bennett had been speaking about a UK government proposal to make the process of changing legal gender easier when he made the comments that led to the speaking ban.

He said: "There is only so much deviation from the norm that any society can take before that society completely implodes.

"If we carry on down this road of appeasing the nuttiest elements of the transgender movement," he said, "then what we will face as a society, within a very short space of time, is total implosion."

Ms Jones had described his words as "particularly hateful to the transgender community".

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