#ExpelMe Rally – speeches

Defend me or expel me rally

The #ExpelMe rally (on Mon 9th March 2020) was organised by London supporters of the Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD) and held in support of Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) and the LGB Alliance.

The sold-out rally was attended by around 300 people and was a response to some of the Labour leadership and deputy leadership contenders signing the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights’ pledge. One of the twelve points of this pledge labelled WPUK and the LGB Alliance ‘hate groups’; another called on the Labour Party to expel anyone who supports women’s sex-based rights.

Below are links to PDFs of some of the speeches given at the event.

 

Bev Jackson speech 9 Mar 20            Kiri Tunks speech 9 Mar 20

Lachlan Stuart speech 9 Mar 20      Lucy Masoud 9 Mar 20

Press release: Women’s rights rally targeted

Women’s rights rally targeted

PRESS RELEASE – issued 11th March 2020

London: Masked protestors let off flares and intimidate attendees 

A women’s rights rally, held at a venue adjacent to the Grenfell Tower Memorial Wall, has been disrupted by masked protestors who let off flares.

Attendees thought that smoke bombs had been thrown and said a strong smell of smoke distressed people – particularly given the location of the venue. Placards reading ‘Fuck Terfs’, a man with a flashing dummy penis, chanting, and photographing women attending the event were also among protestors’ other tactics.

The #ExpelMe rally (on Mon 9th March) was organised by supporters of the Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD) and held in support of Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) and the LGB Alliance.

Speakers included former firefighter Lucy Masoud, lesbian campaigner Bev Jackson, trans woman Debbie Hayton, a teacher, physicist and campaigner for women’s sex-based rights; veteran journalist and campaigner Julie Bindel and former policy adviser to Jeremy Corbyn and the Shadow Cabinet, Lachlan Stuart. Oxford Professor Selina Todd, also spoke having been invited in light of her ‘no-platforming’ at an event celebrating 50 years since the first Women’s Liberation Conference.

The sold-out rally was attended by around 300 people and was a response to some of the Labour leadership and deputy leadership contenders signing the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights’ pledge last month. One of the twelve points of the pledge labelled WPUK and the LGB Alliance ‘hate groups’; another called on the Labour Party to expel anyone who supports women’s sex-based rights.

“The #ExpelMe rally essentially spoke for the thousands of signatories of the Labour Women’s Declaration,” said LWD spokeswoman Bronwen Davies.

“We have huge, but often hidden, support within the Labour Party not only from those who have signed the Declaration but those who are too scared to put their names to it. The comments accompanying the Declaration (on the iPetitions site) tell a story in their own right.”

The rally endorsed four demands of the Labour Party and its leadership contenders:

● That Labour guarantee the single-sex exemptions as per their manifesto commitment.

● That Labour ensure women members are free to discuss everything which affects them as a sex class, including sex self-identification.

● That the Labour Party leader candidates and deputy candidates remove their names from the Trans pledge.

● That the Labour Party and leadership and deputy leader candidates acknowledge publicly that WPUK and LGB Alliance are not hate groups.

“The Labour Women’s Declaration has more than 4,500 signatories – and is growing daily. Many of them are Labour stalwarts including constituency chairs, women’s officers, councillors and MSPs,”said Ms Davies.

“Yet not a single Labour MP or official has replied to our many messages, some dating back to before the General Election, asking for meetings. The candidates have, however, seen fit to sign pledges from a tiny fringe group without hesitation, even though some now claim not to agree with all of it. It is now time they met and talked with us.”

Police were also present at the rally and their help was needed to escort people safely from the venue afterwards, because of the confrontational nature of the protestors. The organisers of the protest – calling themselves ‘London Bi-Pandas’ – later apologised for setting off the flares.

Bronwen Davies added: “The nature of the protest against the rally underlines one of the Declaration’s core demands – that women are permitted to meet and discuss matters concerning our sex-based rights, without fear of intimidation, harassment or bullying.”

ENDS

Activists refute accusations of transphobia

PRESS RELEASE –  issued 12th February 2020

Thousands tweet #expelme in support of women’s rights and free speech

Women members of the Labour Party have hit back at claims that campaigning for women’s rights is ‘transphobic’.

The women are part of the same group which launched the Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD), which quickly gained almost 3,500 signatures of support, including from councillors and MSPs, when it went live last November. The declaration calls on Labour to uphold the right of women to discuss and debate matters affecting them.

But despite the obvious endorsement of open discussion, a newly-formed Labour Campaign for Trans Rights issued a pledge calling for the Labour Party to fight against ‘transphobia’ and claiming that campaign groups, A Woman’s Place UK – which promotes discussion of women’s sex-based rights – and the LGB Alliance – which supports those who are same-sex attracted – are ‘trans-exclusionist hate groups’.

The pledge calls for those who support such organisations to be expelled from the Labour Party – which led to #expelme trending on Twitter as thousands of people made clear their support for women’s sex-based rights and free speech.

Bronwen Davies, a spokeswoman for the LWD group said: “The many thousands of people who tweeted about this echo our own concerns. Some 80 of us met in London earlier this month and reminded ourselves that we are simply campaigning on something that was one of Labour’s 2019 Manifesto commitments – which was to ‘ensure that the single-sex-based exemptions contained in the Equality Act 2010 are understood and fully enforced in service provision’.

“Despite the claim by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights that there is ‘no material conflict between trans rights and women’s rights’, this is clearly not the case if even discussing women’s rights is seen as unacceptable. ”

She continued, “If a male can become a trans woman simply by an act of declaration, women’s right to single-sex spaces, scholarships, awards, and sports – rights supported by legislation – are undermined.”

The LWD working group believes the allegations against A Woman’s Place and the LGB Alliance are defamatory.

Bronwen Davies added: “Advocating for sex-based rights is not transphobic or hateful. Without an understanding that sexism, homophobia and lesbophobia are inequalities based on sex, the Labour Party cannot work for a fairer society for all.

“We are deeply disappointed that Rebecca Long-Bailey, Angela Rayner and Lisa Nandy have chosen to promote this pledge, effectively supporting a witch-hunt against anyone who recognises the reality of reproductive sex.

“We recognise and condemn the discrimination faced by trans people, as we condemn all violence and discrimination against any group. The Labour Party has a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to uphold the rights of all members who have a protected characteristic – this includes both women and trans members.

“We call on the Labour leadership to step up to this challenge – and to allow free and fair discourse on these crucial issues. We do not believe the Labour Party can thrive if free speech and women’s rights are not at the heart of what we stand for.”

ENDS

Labour women galvanised

Labour women galvanised by revived women’s liberation movement 

This article originally appeared in The Morning Star on 7th February 2020

Supporters of the Labour Women’s Declaration are taking action on all fronts to defend their sex-based rights, ALICE BREAN reports from their inaugural meeting.

When women come together, particularly when it’s to defend our sex-based rights, there is a palpable feeling of energy in the air. Such was the atmosphere at the inaugural meeting of supporters of the Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD). 

The meeting, held in London on the day after the Women’s Liberation Conference organised by UCL Women’s Liberation Special Interest Group and A Woman’s Place UK (see Lynne Walsh’s feature, Morning Star online, 2 Feb), was timed to make the most of women being in town for the event.

From Devon to Dundee and all points in between, some eighty Labour Party women, and a couple of male allies, gathered to build on recent successes in the battle to preserve sex-based rights and free speech – but also in solidarity in the face of the backlash against their efforts. 

As well as more than 3,000 signatories supporting the declaration and a commitment to women’s sex-based rights featuring in Labour’s 2019 election manifesto, recent successes include Tottenham CLP’s free speech motion, which was carried 47/12. It takes as its starting point that, ‘There are legitimate concerns to be addressed when balancing the need for support and dignity for trans people with the need to maintain protection for women’s sex-based rights, as enshrined in the Equality Act 2010.’ 

Among other things, it also resolves, ‘to make clear [that Tottenham CLP] supports the right of women to self-organise and freely campaign and advocate for women’s sex-based rights’. The motion further suggests there’s no place for intimidation, aggression or abuse when discussing the issue. 

Quite why such a motion could be considered controversial is anyone’s guess. The matter concerned is entirely a proper one for debate, so the question must be asked: Why are members of a party which is based on comradely behaviour and working collectively kicking off when they are asked to behave in a comradely fashion? And why are they being allowed to get away with it? 

The Labour Women’s Declaration meeting confirmed that the hostility is far from the odd isolated incident. Attendees were asked to stand if they’d received abuse, trolling, threats, complaints to their employers or malicious complaints and investigations within the party merely for raising concerns about women’s sex-based rights and sex self-ID. More than half of those present got to their feet. 

But nobody was in the mood to wallow. Instead the meeting proceeded with its aims to establish and strengthen mutual support networks – in regional, country and trade union groupings – to ensure gender critical views are heard and represented in decision-making and policy formation bodies. Plans to organise at CLP, branch and women’s branch level, and within relevant national networks and conferences, were also on the agenda. 

The challenges faced by lesbians in the party was also discussed, with lesbians joining forces to organise via an autonomous group. 

“The meeting was a first step within the Party towards addressing the extreme fear and anxiety that feminists – and lesbians in particular – are experiencing within Labour,” said an LWD spokeswoman. 

She added, “Until senior politicians follow the example of the three MSPs in speaking up for free speech, this misogynist and lesbophobic abuse will continue – which is why there’s huge disappointment at the responses of nearly all the candidates for Leader and Deputy Leader on this issue.”

The three MSPs referred to are former Scottish Labour leader and MSP for Glasgow Johann Lamont; Elaine Smith who represents Central Scotland; and North East Scotland MSP Jenny Marra. Although they were unable to attend the meeting, all sent messages of support. 

Johann Lamont said: “Women are now finding their voices in greater and greater numbers in a debate about understanding and protecting women’s sex-based rights. These rights were won after a hard fight and they are now under threat – but we know these rights are needed as much as ever.” 

She added: “We owe a debt of gratitude to those who were first to speak up and speak out. Some have paid an all too heavy personal price. They deserve our commitment to ensuring we all play our part in speaking out for the rights of women and girls.”

The meeting also provided an opportunity for Labour activists to support their Scottish sisters, who are currently working to ensure gender critical voices respond to a consultation on a proposed Gender Recognition Reform Bill north of the border.

The Bill proposes that anyone aged 16 or over will be allowed to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate – which would have the effect that the material and biological meaning of ‘woman’ and ‘man’ would no longer exist in law. 

Anyone may respond to the consultation – not just those who live in Scotland and the deadline to do so is 17th March.

“This is the most urgent action right now,” said an LWD spokeswoman. “Those who want this Bill to become law have mobilised support for it at an international level, but unfunded community-based groups will not be able to mobilise on such a massive scale. Yet they speak for the majority who do not support the idea of sex self-ID.”

Despite the hostilities and difficulties women face when raising the issue of sex-based rights and concerns about sex self-ID, the outcome of the LWD meeting had much in common with the closing session of the Women’s Liberation conference of the day before. The meeting may be closed, but Labour women are galvanised.

● The Scottish gender recognition reform consultation closes on 17th March 2020. Guidance on responding can be found at: https://forwomen.scot

Labour activists launch declaration on women’s sex-based rights

Labour activists launch declaration on women’s sex-based rights

This article originally appeared in The Morning Star on 11th November 2019

Three hundred Labour party activists and supporters including three MSPs and 24 Labour councillors have launched a declaration on women’s sex-based rights – and are calling for more signatories.

The declaration, which is being made in the form of a petition, is in response to moves which many fear threaten to erode and water down rights that women campaigned long and hard to achieve.

Concerns arose after Labour made commitments in its 2017 general election manifesto to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). Many believe the proposals would have a detrimental effect on women’s sex-based rights – particularly the right to single-sex facilities such as hospital wards, toilets and changing rooms and also services for survivors of domestic violence and rape.

“All proposals should be audited for their effect on women and girls – but this one hasn’t been. In fact, there has been very little open discussion in any of the political parties or trade unions. Few conversations have been held at branch and constituency level. Where they have, such as in Tottenham and Totnes CLPs, members have voted to support women’s sex based rights,” said Paula Boulton, a spokeswoman for the team behind the declaration.

She added: “We are passionate Labour supporters, including MSPs, councillors, constituency and branch chairs, women’s officers and secretaries and many of us are activists working flat out for a Labour victory in the December general election to end the cruel policies of this Tory government which are causing so much pain and hardship.

However – this issue requires an evidence-based approach and wide discussion before any specific proposals for GRA reform are made.”

Concerns have also been raised about accusations of bigotry and hate crime directed at those trying to respectfully raise the issue and defend women’s sex-based rights.

Paula Boulton added: ”Women have a right to respond to these proposals, and anything that affects us, without censure. We’d like to reframe the conversation to ensure that women’s sex-based rights are protected and given due consideration when formulating future Labour policy, particularly with respect to any reform of the GRA or the Equality Act.”

Tottenham Constituency Labour Party chair Nick Rogers said: “It is important that both men and women in the labour movement make clear their support for women’s sex-based rights and the right of women to self-organise by signing the declaration. We will only advance the interests of the working class as a whole – and succeed in moving towards a socialist society – when we stand in solidarity with all oppressed groups, including the female half of the population.

“This declaration makes a start in promoting the kind of discussion we need on this issue to allow the labour movement to play its proper role in giving voice to all those fighting for a better future.”

The group behind the declaration acknowledges the status of women’s sex-based rights is a cross-party issue – as evidenced by the recent SNP women’s pledge.

In Scotland the SNP government has said it will push through reforms as quickly as possible, although the party is not in full agreement on this and there has been no proper equality impact assessment.

Former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, MSP for Glasgow said: “I have fought all my life along with my sisters in the Labour and trade union movement to ensure that women’s voices are heard, that our needs and rights are addressed, to end the inequality women face and to change women’s lives. The progress made by women has come from women organising together and refusing to be silenced. That is as necessary now as it ever was.”

MSP for Central Scotland Elaine Smith said: “It is important to ensure that debate and different views are not silenced in the Labour Party and the wider labour movement. Women and girls deserve the best we can do, investing in services, tackling violence against women and girls, challenging harassment and discrimination on the grounds of sex. Good laws require thorough scrutiny, and as a Member of the Scottish Parliament I will continue to ask questions and listen to women’s concerns.”

The group say the declaration is their attempt to progress the conversation within the Labour movement.