What you can do to support our campaign

Announcement by Liz Truss on the Gender Recognition Act Consultation and Reform   

It is possible that an announcement will be made on 23rd September. When and if Liz Truss makes an announcement we will issue a statement in response which we will publish here on our website, Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Actions we urge you to take right now!

  1. Use our briefing – speak to people– friends, family, colleagues, fellow Party and Trade Union members. Use our evidence based briefing discussions about the single sex exceptions and GRA reform. We prepared this briefing initially for MPs and Peers, but supporters have asked for copies to support them in their discussions with MPs and in their CLPs and Trade Unions. It has a useful executive summary for people in a hurry.

Read the executive summary and/or download a full copy here.

  1. Invite us to speak to your CLP or Women’s Forum – Email: labourwomensdeclaration@gmail.com.
  1. Do you live in a Labour constituency?
    In the past month we have sent a separate letter and our briefing to all female and then all male Labour MPs. If you would like to amplify our message by forwarding our letter and briefing with a personal note from you to your local MP, please email us at: labourwomensdeclaration@gmail.com.
  1. Are you voting in the Labour NEC Elections?
    In July, we wrote to the 124 candidates for the NEC elections who had supplied an email address, asking them three questions about where they stand on women’s sex-based rights. We have received 25 responses. Most have been positive and supportive of women’s sex-based rights, and several candidates have signed the Declaration as a result of us our approach. In fact more candidates have signed our Declaration than have signed the LCTR trans pledge which calls for the expulsion of party members who wish to discuss their concerns about sex-based rights. We are not publishing their replies in order to protect candidates, especially women, from the abuse which comes with standing up for women’s rights.
  1. Register for our first webinar – Tuesday 20 October 7.30 pm

“Labour Women’s Declaration – speaking up for women’s rights in the Labour Party”

Book your free place via Eventbrite here.

  1. Link up with other party members in your country or region.
    If you are not already in touch locally with other gender critical Labour Party members please email us with the name of your CLP, and we will try to put you in touch, in confidence, with others nearby.
  1. Take action in Scotland
    Our supporters in Scotland are involved with the excellent cross-party campaign For Women Scotland, and we are supporting their crowdfunder to take the SNP government to Judicial Review on its redefinition of the word woman. See here for our formal response to the consultation on the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill and here for our response to the Scottish gender recognition reform bill consultation.
  1. Take action in Wales. In Wales, the devolved administration is led by Labour and our Welsh sisters are active in challenging the Welsh Government’s misunderstandings in relation to the concepts of sex and gender. For further information, please see the Lleisiau Merched Cymru Facebook page or email: lleisiaumerched@hotmail.com

LWD briefing on sex-based rights and GRA reform

Briefing update for MPs, Peers and Party members on sex-based rights and GRA reform. We prepared this briefing in anticipation of the Women and Equalities Minister Liz Truss announcing the outcome of the consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA), possible changes to guidance on application of the single-sex exceptions in the Equality Act 2010 (EA), and a possible ban on conversion therapy for LGBT people. We hope it is helpful for all those engaged in discussions within the Party and beyond. 

Executive Summary

1.     There is a conflict of rights between women and trans people  in terms of the legal definition of sex, which impacts on the Equality Act. Denying this is damaging to both women and trans people – there must be respectful, evidence-based discussion to resolve this conflict of rights, and Labour should lead on this.

2.     Single sex spaces and services are required in several contexts for the safety, privacy and dignity of women and girls, and to facilitate their participation in public life.  If males are permitted to self-identify as women and access female-only spaces and services, they are no longer single sex.  This undermines women’s privacy, and undermines safeguarding and risk management in prisons, refuges and healthcare settings.

3.     As transwomen who hold a GRC are legally female, their comparator class in a discrimination claim is women. This has the potential to undermine anti-discrimination law.

4.     In relation to the possible ban on conversion therapy for LGBT people, the clear distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity, and what conversion therapy means in these two different contexts, must be understood. We urge caution in the detail of such a ban, as this could adversely affect the care that psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists are able to provide for gender-questioning, gender non-conforming or gender dysphoric people without fear of breaking the law.

5.     Women within the Labour Party have been bullied and harassed for stating their opinions about sex and gender.  This is unacceptable, and all MPs should stand up for women’s freedom of speech.

Download the full updated briefing via the link below:

Our response to the Scottish Hate Crime consultation

The Scottish Government recently held a consultation on proposed changes to hate crime and public order legislation in Scotland. The consultation closed on 24th July 2020.

Among many concerns about the proposed changes to the law  are fears that it will affect free speech – including the ability to speak about women’s sex-based rights.

Our working group, led by members in Scotland, submitted a detailed response to the consultation – which you can read via the PDF below.

LWD Scottish Hate Crime & Public Order Consultation Response

Labour Women Speak

When J K Rowling published her very clear, respectful and reasonable views on why she speaks up about sex and gender, we were more than happy to stand in solidarity with her. We also knew she wasn’t the only one who wanted to express their legitimately held views on such issues, in a rational and balanced way.

Labour Women Speak is a series of articles giving Labour women members, and supporters, the opportunity to air their views.

Kay Green is a writer and publisher and a Labour Party activist. Here she explains how seeing people being bullied led to her speaking up about sex and gender issues.

Why did I speak up? I didn’t mean to. I was a constituency officer in my local Labour Party, (Vice Chair (membership)). I thought the bit of the job description that involved ‘looking after the membership’ included dealing with bullying and abuse. Round my way, what I saw along those lines was mostly male LGBT Labour people, being appallingly abusive to, and attempting to silence/remove, autistic people, female abuse survivors and lesbians who disagreed with organisations such as Stonewall’s line on sex self-ID. Said line appears to have been informed by ‘queer theory’ which translated ‘acceptance without exception’ into a strategy that led organisations founded to support gay and lesbian people into activism that appears designed to cancel, deny and revile gay and lesbian cultures and services.

For many reasons, being a woman, and being an ally to autistic, gay and lesbian people leads me to support the retention of sex-based rights and services. I do think it’s difficult to do that and to do what is necessary to support trans people and I think we need a proper, national conversation about how we do it. Approaching the debate with those views apparently made me a ‘terf’, a ‘bigot’ and a ‘Nazi’.

I gradually worked out that the enemy is ‘gender’. To me, ‘sex’ is a biological description of our physical being, and ‘gender’ is the concept by which you can predict – or worse, dictate – what males and females respectively will do, think, say or wear on the basis of their sex. I started working on a better understanding of how different people are seeing the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’, and how those repressive, dictatorial expectations get into our heads, so that we could have that conversation more efficiently.

In dealing with that, I found myself an active member of the Women’s Liberation Movement, learned a lot about feminism, and drew the conclusion that a clear, confident, gender critical women’s liberation movement was something that I, the Labour Party, and in fact the country as a whole was sorely in need of.

For some years, the battle raged on, provoked and embittered by a continuing (often apparently vexatious) confusion over the meanings of words, and the repeated labelling of gender critical women’s groups as ‘anti-trans’. It’s been exhausting. I’m eternally grateful to JK Rowling for bringing a spotlight onto the difficulties, and also to those who are now at last beginning to articulate the importance of all of us finding out how to support those a trans friend of mine calls ‘gender refugees’.

Ironically, the need to come together to talk about sex-based rights, has led to many women learning to work with those who are not their natural political allies (ie, your sex does not dictate which party, or which wing of your party, you support but your female body has the same needs as your political opponent). When this war is over, I hope we can carry that learning into other areas of politics.

All wars generate crowds of traumatised refugees. Those generated by the bitter war over sex and gender include autistic people who can’t cope with prescribed ‘gender roles’, abuse survivors who depend on single-sex services, lesbians and trans people who’ve been forced into the open in trying to challenge Stonewall et al, and all those who have just watched the whole battle in terrified silence.

Please let’s keep the conversation going, and keep speaking up until everyone is properly regarded.

Women Uniting media statement: Are women not extraordinary?

Are media outlets continuing to ignore women led organisations in favour of those led by men?

Last Friday (19th June), several news outlets, including the BBC and the Independent, gave prominent coverage to the formation of a cross party political group, representing a number of political LGBT+ groups, calling it ‘an extraordinary move’. Members of the group said, “This is unique”

The group had responded to reports that the Minister for Women and Equalities was going to publish her long awaited response to the consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

We were surprised that the media found this such a significant story, and that the group is claiming this action is ‘unique’. Indeed we are baffled as to why it received such a lot of coverage, because cross party groups of WOMEN working together on this issue have been studiously ignored.

The fact that we have been doing so for some time is apparently not considered ‘extraordinary’.

Inspired by ForWomenScotland, who have been working together cross party since mid 2018, Women Uniting UK was formed in late 2019, initially as a cross party coalition of women from six major UK political parties.

We published a joint petition on International Women’s Day, the 8th March this year, now signed by over 4,000 people with new signatures added every day. Thousands more signed the individual political party pledges and petitions. We sent out a press release announcing this to dozens of media outlets and journalists, including a large number at the BBC. It was ignored.

In April, our political alliance was joined by non-party-politically aligned women’s groups, including Fair Play for Women, FiLiA, and the Women’s Human Rights Campaign, to send a joint open letter to the Minister for Women and Equalities, the Rt.Hon Elizabeth Truss

Again, we tried to get media interest and again we were ignored. Since we shared that letter, more groups have joined us, including Authentic Equity Alliance, For Women Scotland, LGB Alliance, and Transgender Trend among others. We stand by everything we said in our petition, and in our joint letter.

We support Liz Truss in saying NO to Self ID and YES to clear and unambiguous guidance on the rights of women and girls to single SEX spaces. This removes rights from no-one.

We stand united in our defence of the rights of every human being to define themselves as they wish. But we will not allow the rights of women and children to single sex spaces to be removed. Those spaces and services provide safety, dignity, comfort and privacy.

We will not stand by as the power to name ourselves, to count ourselves, to represent ourselves, is removed. The word woman is taken.

ENDS

Editors’ Notes

Many of the groups mentioned in this letter have written their own open letters, and letters to Liz Truss; their own MPs or MSPs; other political representatives; the Women & Equalities Committee; and the Prime Minister on behalf of their groups and as individuals. (We are happy to provide contact details for these groups should you wish to talk to them about their particular views.)

Joint Political Petition signatories, Women Uniting UK:  Conservative Women’s Pledge; Green Feminists Women and Girls Declaration; Labour Women’s Declaration; Liberal Democrats Grassroots Challenge to Policy on Women; SNP Women’s Pledge; and Women’s Equality Party for Protection of Sex Based Rights

Signatories to the letter of 23rd April 2020:  Women Uniting UK; Conservative Women’s Pledge; Green Feminists Women and Girls Declaration; Labour Women’s Declaration; Liberal Democrats Grassroots Challenge to Policy on Women; SNP Women’s Pledge; Women’s Equality Party for Protection of Sex Based Rights; Fair Play for Women; FiLiA; and WHRC

New signatories to 23 Apr letter: Authentic Equity Alliance; For Women Scotland; LGB Alliance; and Transgender Trend.


Media statement contact details:

Follow @WomenUnitingUK 

Press enquiries to: womenunitinguk@gmail.com

Govt commitment to women’s sex-based rights welcomed

Labour women say Government move supports proposal in Labour Manifesto – and urge Labour leadership to listen to women before responding. Full statement below…

The Labour Women’s Declaration Working Group, on behalf of our nearly-5,000 signatories, welcomes the trailed forthcoming announcement of the Conservative government to abandon plans for new gender recognition legislation (as reported in the Sunday Times 14th June 2020). The proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) would have enabled people to change their legal sex without any of the current safeguarding, such as diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’ and two years of living in their preferred rôle.

In parallel, the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 will be strengthened to ensure single-sex spaces in such contexts as domestic abuse refuges and NHS wards, and with national guidance on lavatory provision, which is expected to mean that the ‘free-for-all’ with local councils and venues creating ‘gender neutral’ lavatories will cease. The Labour manifesto for the December 2019 election stated an intention to ensure that the single-sex provisions of the Equality Act were understood and enforced in appropriate services, and this intention from the Tories would appear to go some way towards that.

We are, of course, aware that there are serious splits in the Labour Party concerning the provisions of the Gender Recognition Act, and that many MPs (including in the shadow cabinet) and councillors have signed pledges committing to enabling ‘self-identification’ as a woman (or man) and even expelling from the Party those who are seriously concerned about the erosion of women’s rights inherent in such a move. However, thousands of members, including MSPs and councillors, have signed our Declaration supporting sex-based rights and free speech. We hope that Labour Party members at all levels will now recognise the importance of protecting women’s rights in the way that it appears the Conservative Party are intending – which in large part borrows from our own manifesto.

We urge Keir Starmer to engage with the proposals and give the details his full consideration. Women’s movements on the left across Europe are gathering pace in their defence of sex-based rights. Now that the Conservative party are backtracking from their former position, he should consult with us (as we have repeatedly requested) and hear our concerns about the specific points that we might want to challenge about the Conservative approach.

We also welcome the intention to outlaw gay conversion therapy – which is already forbidden in the regulations governing many of those who provide psychological support. We are concerned however that the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) and Conversion Therapy Bill 2017-19, introduced by Conservative MP Geraint Davies and which was abandoned when it failed to clear all readings before the 2019 General Election, could be brought back. This specifically includes ‘gender identity’ in its wording, and inclusion of this in the clauses of any new Bill might make it much harder for good psychological support to be provided to those considering ‘transition’.

One of the issues that will arise from the decision to abandon changes to the GRA and strengthen the single-sex provisions of the Equality Act 2010 is the fact that the Scottish government has been going along a rather different route and has recently introduced self-identity within an Act concerning balanced representation of men and women on public boards. The Scottish government’s approach continues to be of profound concern for women in Scotland. Scottish GRA reform is pending, with analysis of the Scottish Government’s 2020 consultation put on hold during the current crisis. Hate crime legislation is also being considered, and is a matter of considerable unease given the breadth of interpretation which might be used.

After such a long wait since the closure of the consultation period on changes to the Gender Recognition Act, it is with great relief that we welcome the decision of the Westminster government to strengthen single-sex provision and ensure proper safeguards on legally-recognised changes to an individual’s status – safeguards which help to provide effective support to those undertaking transition.

We also welcome the response from David Lammy MP on the Andrew Marr television programme today that ‘Labour will have to look carefully at any legislation that is brought forward’ and from Scottish Labour in its manifesto that it will ‘listen carefully to the submissions and debate as the legislation progresses.’

Labour’s engagement in listening to women during this process is of vital importance, and we look forward to contributing.