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.”


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.”