Labour conference: Wrong to say that only women have a cervix, says Keir Starmer

MP Rosie Duffield staying away from Brighton gathering over online threats

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Sunday 26 September 2021 13:54
'Not right' to say that 'only women have a cervix', says Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer has said that Labour MP Rosie Duffield was wrong to say that only women have a cervix.

Ms Duffield has stayed away from Labour’s annual conference this week after receiving threats online from people who regard her comment as discriminatory.

Today Sir Keir called for the debate to be conducted in a “respectful” way, while deputy leader Angela Rayner said she was “concerned” about the level of abuse directed at female MPs.

But the party leader did not offer backing for Ms Duffield’s comments, which have angered trans rights campaigners who believe that people should be able to self-identify their gender.

Asked whether it was transphobic to say that only women had a cervix, Sir Keir told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “It is something that shouldn’t be said. It’s not right.”

He was blasted by health secretary Sajid Javid, who described his comment as a “total denial of scientific fact”, adding: “And he wants to run the NHS.”

Sir Keir said: “I spoke to Rosie earlier this week and told her conference is a safe place for her to come.

“We do everybody a disservice when we reduce what is a really important issue to these exchanges on particular things that are said.

“The trans community are the most marginalised and abused of many, many communities and we need to make progress on the Gender Recognition Act.

“I’m very concerned that this debate must be conducted in a proper way where proper views are expressed in a way that is respectful.”

Ms Rayner said she was shocked by the level of abuse aimed at female politicians and it was a “concern” that the Canterbury MP felt unable to attend conference.

“That is a concern of mine, that Rosie didn’t feel safe to attend conference,” Ms Rayner told Sky News.

The deputy leader said she had personally received “many” death threats, adding: “What I have been shocked by, especially my female colleagues – and that’s Conservative female MPs as well – is the level of misogynist abuse they get.”

She promised “robust” action against any Labour member who targets Ms Duffield.

“Rosie deserves our full support and protection against that and she would get that. If she had come to conference we would have risk-assessed and made sure that she had every bit of support that she needed to be here.

“Anybody who abuses Rosie Duffield who is a member of the Labour Party would go through our formal complaints procedure and I would expect a robust response on it.”

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