We are delighted that 150 people signed a letter which was published in the Morning Star condemning the climate of threat around debates on the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).
The letter (reproduced below) was signed by people with a range of views including some of whom have not yet made up their minds on GRA reform.
The purpose of the letter was to condemn the longstanding and persistent threat to women attempting to organise themselves and to make their voices heard on an issue which is of material concern to them.
Such women, both individually and as part of a range of groups, have been harassed, threatened, abused, intimidated and subject to violent assault. Transwomen speaking at our meetings and supporting our five demands have similarly faced bullying and ostracism.
We believe that the debate on the GRA would have been best facilitated by organisations in the labour and equalities movements. The fact that none of them have done this speaks volumes about the climate of fear in which we are all operating.
We are deeply concerned that the concerns of women have been so easily denigrated and cast aside, leaving us open to unfounded attack.
We are therefore deeply grateful to all the signatories of the letter in the Morning Star this morning for drawing a line for what constitutes an acceptable way to have a public debate.
This is the full text of the letter:
We, the undersigned, have a variety of positions about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act. Some of us have not yet fully formed our opinions.
We are calling for action within our movement to allow debate to take place over proposed changes to the Act.
You may be aware that on April 13 this year, an activist, Tara Wood was convicted of the assault by beating of Maria MacLachlan, a 60-year-old woman who had gathered with others in order to attend a meeting at which they could discuss the potential impact on women and girls of such a change to the law.
On March 8, an incident also occurred on a Bectu picket line in which trans activists, with no connection to the industrial dispute itself, mobbed and verbally attacked a female trade union member on the basis of having recognised her as an attendee at a similar meeting.
And in late April women in Bristol looking to meet and discuss changes to the Gender Recognition Act were met with masked activists blocking entrances to the venue, and deliberately intimidating those wishing to go inside.
More recently, a meeting organised by Woman’s Place UK was targeted with a bomb threat which Hastings Police are investigating as a serious incident.
These cases are part of systematic attempts to shut down meetings organised by women at which they can discuss potential legislative changes and the impact these may have on any sex-based rights already enshrined in law.
They draw the whole of our progressive movement into disrepute.
Some trans rights activists even continue to justify the use of violence, meaning that many women are simply too frightened to attend meetings that are both public and lawful in order that they may discuss their own rights.
Other women, including ordinary women concerned for their rights, as well as those active within the trade union movement and other political campaigns, are also now anxious and fearful that they will be subjected to such attacks when engaging in any political activity, meetings, or protests.
We are sure that, whatever your view regarding the issues around the Gender Recognition Act, you will agree that it is unacceptable for women to be made scared to engage in political life.
We, the undersigned, publicly and unequivocally condemn the use of violence or tactics of intimidation on this issue.