Labour must support everyone’s rights: a rebuttal of the ‘open letter’

 An open letter is circulating condemning a motion passed by the largest Constituency Labour Party (CLP) in the country, Hornsey & Wood Green.

We believe the open letter to be misguided, misleading and likely to cause unnecessary anxiety and concern.

We also believe the letter to be defamatory so we are not linking to the document itself. However, in the interests of transparency, we have copied the text below (in italics) followed by our points of rebuttal.

We have also reproduced the text of the motion so that readers can decide for themselves if the concerns raised in the open letter are justified.

Open Letter In Support Of Trans Labour Members

We are members of the Labour Party expressing solidarity with trans people in the face of hate from the media and by anti-trans groups in the UK. We recognise that the UK has recently experienced a week  of coordinated pernicious attacks on trans people, including the launching of the execrable LGB Alliance and a motion passed at Hornsey & Wood Green General Meeting in support of Womans (sic) Place UK.

  • Here is the text of the motion passed by Hornsey & Wood Green, the largest CLP in the country:

This CLP notes:

The debate around proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act requires sensitivity and respect for different opinions within the Labour Party.

This CLP believes:

There are legitimate concerns to be addressed when considering the need for support and dignity for trans people and the need to maintain protection for women’s sex-based rights, as enshrined in the Equality Act 2010.

The reaction by many party members to the activities of organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, including denouncements from this year’s Labour Party conference and aggressive demonstrations outside the fringe meeting, is very concerning.

This CLP resolves:

To encourage constituency parties across the country to follow good practice established by Hornsey & Wood Green and Tottenham CLPs in creating spaces for women and LGBT activists to come together to discuss the issues in a spirit of respect and comradeship.

To make clear it supports the right of women to self-organise and freely campaign and advocate for women’s sex-based rights.

To make clear its support for Woman’s Place UK to organise and campaign, free from intimidation, at Labour Party events and among Labour Party members, as with all other groups.”

The failure of the Labour Party on this issue is a deep wound to the principles of equality the Party is supposed to stand for.

  • No, it isn’t. The motion commits the CLP to upholding the rights of both women and trans people as well as to the fostering of dialogue between the two groups of people with protected characteristics as enshrined in the Equality Act.

Let us be under no illusions. The motion passed at Hornsey & Wood Green supports a transphobic organisation.

  • No, it doesn’t. Woman’s Place UK is not a transphobic organisation. WPUK is made up of a group of people from a range of backgrounds including trade unions, women’s organisations, academia and the NHS. We are united by our belief that women’s hard-won rights must be defended.
  • We are against all forms of discrimination. We believe in the right of everyone to live their lives free from discrimination and harassment. Women face both endemic structural and personal inequality. This is reflected, for example, in the high levels of sexual harassment and violence against women and girls; the gender pay gap; discrimination at work. This is why sex is a protected characteristic in the Equality Act (2010) which we believe must be defended.
  • We are not anti-trans. We have had trans women speak on our panels and more have attended and spoken from the floor.

Links in the open letter:

  • This is to an article in P*nk ‘News’ published in April 2018.

  • This is to someone’s blog published in April 2018

  • We were not approached to give a comment for this article.
  • Our rebuttal of the statement by Trans Action Oxford quoted in the article is here.

Failure of the General Secretary’s office to rule the motion out of order in the first place is hard to comprehend but to still have failed to intervene to rule it out now that it has received some publicity and is going to Tottenham CLP is unconscionable.

  • There would have been no grounds to rule this motion out of order.

Our confidence in the Labour Party’s commitment to protect trans members is shaken. Action must be taken.

  • We are sorry their confidence has been shaken but we don’t understand why. This motion commits to upholding the rights of both trans people and women. We think this should reassure everyone.
  • We are astonished to hear that the upholding of women’s rights, as they exist in law, is a threat to anyone. We are alarmed that the writers are calling for action against these rights.
  • We are grateful to all the members of Hornsey & Wood Green CLP for tabling and passing this motion which we think is a serious attempt to encourage dialogue and understanding which can only be for the good of everyone.
  • We hope the members proposing the motion in Tottenham CLP are successful in passing it there too and that CLPs around the country pass it too.

29th October 2019

We believe that it is important to share a range of viewpoints on women’s rights and advancement from different perspectives. WPUK does not necessarily agree or endorse all the views that we share.