Rebecca Long Bailey vows to expel ‘transphobic’ Labour members The Times 13.02.20

The original article is here.

Rebecca Long Bailey has angered feminists by calling on the Labour Party to expel members who express “transphobic” views.

Ms Long Bailey, one of the frontrunners in the Labour leadership contest, endorsed a 12-point plan by a campaign group that also called on the party to “organise and fight” against feminist and LGBT organisations that they claimed were transphobic.

The Labour Campaign for Trans Rights called for the party to acknowledge that “there is no material conflict” between trans rights and women’s rights. The groups singled out by the organisation denied claims that they were transphobic, describing the allegations as “scurrilous” and “defamatory”.

Woman’s Place UK, which describes itself as a campaign “against all forms of discrimination”, said that it “absolutely refuted” claims of transphobia. Its supporters criticised Ms Long Bailey for signing the pledge.

“I find it very worrying,” Selina Todd, a professor of history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, said. “I am against any transphobia. But one of the extraordinary things about the declaration that Rebecca Long Bailey has signed up to is that it suggests women should be defined as a gender, rather than as a sex.”

The LGB Alliance, which states that “biological sex is observed at birth and not assigned”, promised to “keep speaking the truth”.

Ms Long Bailey, 40, the shadow business secretary, encouraged others to back the pledges. “Please sign to show your support for the trans and non-binary community, for whom the Labour Party should always be a safe space,” she tweeted.

Angela Rayner, a contender for the deputy leadership, has also signed the pledge, saying: “Our solidarity is long overdue — the Labour Party should always be an open and safe space for all.”

Lisa Nandy, 40, the Wigan MP who is running for the leadership, appeared to distance herself from the pledge on Twitter, although her team said that she had signed up to the 12-point plan.

“We’ve seen a rise in transphobic hate crimes in this country over recent years,” Ms Nandy wrote. “Rather than allow women to be pitted against one another, the Labour Party should always be an open and safe space for all.”

In a BBC Newsnight hustings last night Ms Long Bailey said: “I’m a firm believer in self-identification and I’d like that brought into UK law because we need to end the discussion on this.”

Her rival Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, said that she had not signed the pledge because she did not agree with its description of those who disagreed as spouting hate.

Sir Keir Starmer, the frontrunner, said that “trans rights are human rights” and backed a change in the law but said: “Treating this as a political football with camps taking lumps out of each other does everybody a disservice.”

The candidates clashed over “complicity” on antisemitism, with Ms Thornberry suggesting that Ms Long Bailey had stayed silent.

Ms Thornberry said: “I think it would be right to say that the record shows that I have regularly called out antisemitism in my party. It also should be said that Keir and I were both in the shadow cabinet and would regularly, the two of us, call for regular reports to the shadow cabinet.”

When Ms Long Bailey insisted that she too had spoken up, Ms Thornberry said: “I’m sorry, I don’t remember.”

Ms Long Bailey vowed to sign up to the ten pledges on fighting antisemitism as outlined by the Board of Deputies of British Jews if she became leader. “As leader I will be signing up to the ten pledges,” she said. “I would expect my shadow cabinet and all those within it, all our members and MPs within parliament, to follow my lead on that.”

Sir Keir added: “If you’re not prepared to fight antisemitism, you shouldn’t be in the shadow cabinet.”

The government has begun a consultation on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, the results of which have not been published. The LGBT charity Stonewall says that the current process, whereby trans people can have their identity legally recognised, is intrusive.



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