And answers there came none…publication of our private letters to Mayor which remain unanswered…

Sadiq – “Do you support the single-sex exceptions in the 2010 Equality Act or do you wish to repeal them?” This is the question which Joan Smith asked you in private letters last year, but you failed to respond, in spite of her position as the independent Chair of your VAWG Board, in which role she was charged with leading independent scrutiny of your performance towards ending VAWG.

We are now publishing our own letters to you so that it cannot be said that you were not aware of our safeguarding concerns. As Labour Peer Philip Hunt warned in July 2020 “When the eventual public enquiry happens, as inevitably it will, there will be many organisations and leaders who will have to face up to the consequences  of their inaction.”

Thousands of Labour party members who have signed our Declaration are also waiting for your answers to our letters to you and your Deputy Mayors, dating back over 2 years. We believe you are publicly promoting views which will have a chilling effect on women, and on lesbians in particular. We have repeatedly asked to meet you and your colleagues so that you can at least understand our concerns. We are not asking you to agree with us, but to hear us.

Thread of emails send by Labour Women’s Declaration supporters to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London between 24 July 2019 and 20 August 2021.

Subject: Fwd: Let’s talk about women’s rights – response needed in the light of today’s Times report about the replacement of Joan Smith as independent chair by a GLA official. 

Date: 19 August 2021 at 12:20:31 BST

To: Sadiq.khan@london.gov.uk, Joanne McCartney <joanne.mccartney@london.gov.uk>, sophie.linden@london.gov.uk

Cc: buckk@parliament.uk, len.duvall@london.gov.uk, London Labour Women’s Declaration <londonlabourwomensdeclaration@gmail.com>

Dear Sadiq Khan

Please see below for the email sent to you by London Labour Women’s Declaration on 11th January this year, 2021, signed by over 60 Labour party members including councillors and elected officers. It received neither reply nor acknowledgement. It refers to an earlier letter sent in July 2019 which received a patronising single sentence reply from one of your aides in November 2019 and which did not address a single one of our questions.

We read today in the Times that you have still not even responded to a similar private letter from Joan Smith sent last year, despite her years of voluntary service as your VAWG Board Chair.

All we are asking for is for women to be heard, and for you to reassure us and the women’s sector that you fully support the single-sex exceptions in Labour EA2010, and reinforced in Labour’s 2019 Manifesto. We also need you to understand that most lesbians and many gay men do not feel represented by Stonewall, by the LGBTQ+ acronym, or Pride initiatives. You don’t have to agree with our positions, but by refusing to listen, at first hand to those of us who represent the thousands of signatories to the Labour Women’s Declaration,  you risk falling behind the curve in terms of safeguarding, women’s and gay and lesbian rights, and you do no service either to the needs of people identifying as transgender. You also risk further electoral damage to the Labour Party.

And as for restructuring your Boards to replace independent Chairs with County Hall officials, well that speaks for itself.

Please could you reply to our letter of 11.01.21 below?

Thank you

Ceri Williams

for London Labour Women’s Declaration, and Labour Women’s Declaration Working Group.

From: “London Labour Women’s Declaration” <londonlabourwomensdeclaration@gmail.com>

Subject: Let’s talk about women’s rights

Date: 11 January 2021 at 10:18:41 GMT

To: sadiq.khan@london.gov.uk

Cc: joanne.mccartney@london.gov.uk, Sophie.linden@london.gov.uk, Len.duvall@london.gov.uk, buckk@parliament.uk

Dear Sadiq Khan,

We’re London Labour Party activists and supporters of the Labour Women’s Declaration who are very concerned about your current stance on women’s sex-based rights.

Given recent developments, including the High Court judgement against the Tavistock GIDS clinic, recent Twitter attacks on Labour councillors in Camden and Merton, and the upcoming mayoral election, we would like to meet with you and/or one of the Deputy Mayors to discuss women’s rights and freedoms.  (We emailed you in July 2019 asking for a meeting and your Senior Policy Officer replied in November 2019.  However he didn’t address any of the questions we raised, so we still really need a meeting).

One reason for our concern is your frequent statements that “transwomen are women”. There is a conflict of rights between women and transwomen which is denied by this simplistic slogan and, given the GLA’s funding role, your words have a chilling effect on women’s organisations in London. We are asking for two assurances – that organisations supporting women in London will not be penalised for expressing a different view, and that you continue to support the single-sex exceptions in the 2010 Equality Act.

The 2019 Labour manifesto stated that the single-sex exceptions must be “understood and enforced in service provision”, not least because they also intersect with other protected categories such as that of religion, sexual orientation and belief.

The current government has adopted a correctly cautious approach to reform of the GRA and more discerning guidelines on PSHE in schools, saying schools must avoid organisations and materials “that suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing” (DFE guidance Sept 2020).

Despite the government doing the right thing on this issue, we know that women are better off under Labour, and we want to be able to campaign effectively for the Labour Party – and for you as Mayor.

Your current stance is losing the support of Labour Party members in London, not to mention voters on the (virtual) doorstep who are increasingly speaking out against the sexism, homophobia and abandonment of safeguarding inherent in gender ideology.

We look forward to meeting with you or one of your deputies to discuss our concerns and find workable solutions.

Yours sincerely,

Ceri Williams

Tottenham CLP
, London Labour Women’s Declaration representative on behalf of:

(66 names of Labour Party members in London were given here, including Councillors, women’s officers, CLP and branch chairs )

(Many more of us are unable to sign this letter due to the fact that those who raise concerns about sex-based rights have suffered abuse including threatening letters to their employers from gender identity activists. You can find our names and comments among others on the Labour Women’s Declaration petition.)

This January 2021 letter above received neither acknowledgement nor reply, despite follow up reminders.

Copy of letter sent 24.07.19 – which received this derisory reply from an aide on 11.09.19
“Dear (name redacted)
Thank you for your email to the Mayor of London regarding his position on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

The Mayor has made his position on reform clear. The Mayor supports reform of the Gender Recognition Act as it is now outdated and reform is a key step in addressing the marginalisation of trans and non-binary communities, by allowing them to more easily gain legal recognition of their gender identity.

The United Kingdom is currently lagging behind the progress made by countries around the world in terms of legal equality for trans and non-binary people. Changing the law would bring us in line with the standard already set by Ireland, Denmark and Norway, whilst transforming the lives of trans and non-binary people.

Yours sincerely

Rob Downey
Senior Policy Officer
Equality and Fairness Team”

 

“24.07.19

Dear Sadiq Khan (cc Joanne McCartney)

We are writing this private letter to you, as London Labour Party members, to express our surprise and concern that you are a signatory to a letter from four male mayors to Penny Mordaunt[1] which urges the Government to speed up proposed changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. As active Labour Party members from constituencies across London we would like to request a meeting with you to explain our profound concerns about Sex Self-ID . Many feminists socialists, lesbians and gay men like us feel they are no longer represented by organisations such as the LGBT Foundation, Stonewall, or LGBT Labour. We are growing in number as more and more people wake up to the dangers of Self-ID.  In some CLPs we are the majority. It may be that you continue to disagree with our point of view but we hope that you will reserve judgement until you have listened to our evidence and arguments.

We have watched the Twitter storm following the publication of an open response to Andy Burnham from Cathy Devine which expresses the deep disquiet that your joint letter has triggered among, mostly, but not solely, women in London and across the country. Rather than reiterate the content of her open letter, we will assume that you have noted the issues she raised and are keen to hear what is causing all this concern amongst the very comrades who were active against Section 28 and for the protection of women from male violence.

Among the many points of disagreement we have with the letter you signed is that it claims that the provisions outlined in the Equality Act will not change. This cannot be right as the very definition of sex will be eroded if the plans go ahead. If a fully male-bodied person can say they are a woman (i.e. member of the female sex class) then the protected characteristic of ‘sex’ has no meaning. If biological sex is irrelevant and a female bodied transman or a male-bodied transwoman can call themselves gay or lesbian respectively, then the protected category of sexual orientation becomes meaningless. What’s more, given the very widely drawn concept of ‘trans’ as set out by Stonewall[2] it would be very difficult to know what criteria would be used under the proposed policy.

The 2017 Labour Party Manifesto gives a clear commitment to ‘gender audit all policy and legislation for its impact on women before implementation’ and yet this commitment appears to have been brushed aside or forgotten. This is why we would welcome the opportunity for some of the many Labour Party members, academics, scientists, equalities specialists and lawyers amongst us, to meet with you to discuss our valid concerns about the poorly articulated explanations of what constitutes a gender identity as opposed to sex. We are troubled about the way in which discussing girls and women’s sex-based rights is being viewed as transphobic; about the fact that 75% of the huge increase in children referred to the Tavistock clinic for gender dysphoria are girls who would more than likely grow up to be lesbians. We are alarmed by the growing disquiet among clinical experts that children may be being misdiagnosed as transgender[3] and that the hormones and puberty blockers being prescribed cause lifelong harms[4]. We are worried that the collection of data on aspects of social and economic life such as health, pay equity between the sexes or crime rates will become skewed with serious impacts on provision. We are uneasy about safeguarding for often vulnerable women and girls.

From your response to this highly contested issue, we surmise that you haven’t directly heard from feminists, lesbians, gay men and transsexuals in the Labour party who are opposed to Sex Self-ID. It’s been hard to speak up due to the abuse and accusations of transphobia that tend to follow any questioning of the proposals. But we are many, from all ages and backgrounds and feel that you need to hear our voices.

We are keen to convene a meeting with you as soon as possible to offer a different perspective to that which has been provided by organisations such as Stonewall, Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence, London Pride etc whose extensive access to government and the GLA have enabled them to be highly influential in policy-making in this area. We do not ask you to accept everything we say, but we do hope that you will listen to alternative voices from within the Labour Party in London with regard to this highly contentious issue. You may feel that this issue is not within your remit, but having signed the Mayors’ letter, you have put yourself in a public position which we believe is not backed up by a growing body of evidence. As Labour members about to hit the doorsteps possibly for a General Election, and definitely for the mayoral election, we would like to feel that you have given our views at least a hearing.

We look forward to hearing from your office with possible dates for a meeting.

Yours sincerely

50 signatories are given below, out of whom a small number will form a working group to meet with you”

(Names removed to protect signatories from bullying. As with all our letters to the Mayor, they included Councillors, and CLP officers from constituencies across London)

 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/18/labour-mayors-urge-government-to-speed-up-gender-law-changes-england-wales

[2] ‘Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, gender-queer (GQ), gender-fluid, non-binary, gender-variant, crossdresser, genderless, agender, nongender, third gender, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman, trans masculine, trans feminine and neutrois’

[3] https://medium.com/@kirstyentwistle/an-open-letter-to-dr-polly-carmichael-from-a-former-gids-clinician-53c541276b8d

[4] https://blogs.bmj.com/bmjebmspotlight/2019/02/25/gender-affirming-hormone-in-children-and-adolescents-evidence-review/?fbclid=IwAR38DNSELZ9nbdh8-sHstf9a-aSEsKL7VPl_iCCMNmbYGAnENvhgR2pdqB4

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