Rebecca Long-Bailey sparks Labour row after pledging to fight ‘transphobic’ women’s groups

Leadership contender under fire after backing campaign to expel party members for ‘bigoted transphobic views’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 12 February 2020 10:08
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Rebecca Long-Bailey has triggered a furious row after signing up to a campaign to "fight" women's groups that it views as “transphobic” and expel offending party members.

The Labour leadership contender urged others to join her in backing a 12-point plan put forward by a group called the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights.

It demands the expulsion of anyone putting forward “bigoted transphobic views” – and names Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance as “transphobic organisations” that must be resisted.

Woman’s Place, a group of Labour members campaigning for women-only spaces, said it “absolutely” denied that it was transphobic and called the accusation “defamatory”.

“We call on the Labour Party to demonstrate its opposition to this misogynistic abuse of women. Defend us or expel us,” it said in a statement.

Some Labour members have adopted the Twitter hashtag #expelme in protest at pledges drawn up by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights' pledges, while others warned of a “witch hunt” if they are adopted.

Ms Long-Bailey’s move won support from some campaigners for trans rights and she was called a “hero” by the Labour supporter and writer Owen Jones.

However, one critic wrote on Twitter: “It appears you are determined to drive me and thousands of other women out of Labour.

“We have worked for women's sex-based rights, for protections for girls, for justice for women, for 50 years, including in Labour – and now you say you want us out. Gee thanks.”

The pledges state that “trans liberation must be an objective of the Labour Party”, calling for long-stalled changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

They vow to “organise and fight against transphobic organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, LGB Alliance and other trans-exclusionist hate groups”.

Ms Long-Bailey wrote on Twitter: “Please sign to show your support for the trans and non-binary community, for whom the Labour Party should always be a safe space.”

The drive for stronger trans rights has collided with the fears of many women’s campaigners that their hard-won rights will be diluted, including in sport and for single-sex changing rooms and other spaces.

The government has been accused of stalling on promised changes to the Gender Recognition Act, with the results of a consultation almost a year overdue.

A trans person has to wait two years and undergo a review or appearance before a specialist panel, as well as paying £140, before being able to change their gender legally.

The other leadership contenders, Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry, have been asked for their views on the trans rights group’s campaign.

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