We call on the Labour Party to investigate the unwarranted attacks by LGBT Labour on women who are speaking up for their rights. The most recent example of this is their unsubstantiated attack on Ann Henderson for
“sharing material which has been described as transphobic”.
The group is calling for the democratic election of Ann Henderson to be overturned despite offering no evidence for their accusation.
We believe that this attack is related to Ann Henderson sharing a tweet by Woman’s Place UK publicising a drop-in meeting for MPs to hear the views of women on proposals to change the Gender Recognition Act during the public consultation period.
Woman’s Place UK campaigns for women’s rights and we work with a wide range of supporters including those from the trans community. We are 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.
We are astonished that an elected representative and official of the UK Labour Party should be attacked for supporting the voices of women to be heard by their elected representatives during a public consultation. The misrepresentation of this as an act of transphobia beggars belief.
All political parties have a legal and political responsibility to facilitate this necessary discussion but, given these attacks by a Labour affiliated group, we would like to remind the Labour Party of some of the promises they have made which we now expect them to keep:
- Jeremy Corbyn asserted the right of women to debate changes to the GRA on the Andrew Marr show in January 2018.
- In his speech to Labour Party Conference 2017, John McDonnell promised to consult women on all proposed legislation saying:
“And we will ensure every piece of legislation will be measured for its impact on women before it is implemented.”
- In a Mumsnet webchat in September 2018, John McDonnell confirmed that he has met with representatives of Woman’s Place. He said:
“I have met with some of the women from Woman’s Place and will be doing so again.”
You can read our statement on our meeting with John McDonnell here.
As a society affiliated to the Labour party, LGBT Labour is governed by Labour’s rules which are quite clear:
“Everyone should feel able to take part in discussion about our party, country and world. We want to maximise this debate, including critical discussion, as long as it does not result in the exclusion of others.
“It is perfectly possible to have vehement disagreements without descending into personal abuse, shaming people or exhibiting bullying behaviour. Forcefully made points and criticisms of the political views of others are totally legitimate, personal attacks are not. Debates amongst party members should be comradely, acknowledging that whatever our diverse views, we are one party with shared goals. Derogatory descriptions of the positions of others should be avoided.”
We believe LGBT Labour is in breach of this code and we call on the Labour Party to remind them and all of their members, officers and activists of their obligations in this regard.
Further, we call on them to advise LGBT Labour that any allegations they make must be based in fact, backed up by evidence and to withdraw any accusation they cannot substantiate.
Again, Labour’s own rules state:
“Labour groups shall conduct their business in a comradely fashion, in such a way as to maximise participation from all members and to facilitate debate on key policy and political matters.”
It is worth noting, the Government’s guidance on the consultation made it quite clear that they knew women had legitimate concerns and that they were keen to hear them:
“We also want to be clear that this is an explorative consultation and we do not have all the answers. That is why, as we consult, we are mindful of the need to engage with all perspectives. We particularly want to hear from women’s groups who we know have expressed some concerns about the implications of our proposals.”
LGBT Labour seems to have a disproportionate number of men as patrons. Perhaps if more women were on board LGBT Labour might develop a more rounded perspective of all the issues.
We have just launched our New Year Resolutions and in pursuing our first demand, Women have the right to self-organise, we will be making demands on political, civic and academic bodies to play their role in facilitating respectful debate and ensure women’s voices are heard.
We applaud Ann Henderson for her principled commitment to ensuring women are empowered to access political debate. We look forward to more politicians making the same stand.
23rd January 2019