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Labour MP says party ‘absolute embarrassment’ over gender identity

·4-min read

The Labour Party has been branded an “absolute embarrassment” by one of its own MPs when it comes to the conversation about women’s rights and gender identity.

Rosie Duffield said she felt she was in a “safe space” attending the first annual conference of the LGB Alliance in central London.

The Canterbury MP appeared on a panel entitled Cancel Culture and Free Speech alongside fellow parliamentarians Joanna Cherry, of the SNP, and Tory Jackie Doyle-Price.

Ms Duffield stayed away from the Labour Party conference last month because of the abuse she suffered after being labelled a “transphobe”.

At a Fringe event, she had reportedly accused colleagues of “chucking me on the railway tracks” over her stance on issues such as people being allowed to self-identify as female and comments including “only women have a cervix”.

Speaking at the LGB Alliance meeting on Thursday, she said it felt “incredibly lonely” within her own party, and credited Ms Cherry and Ms Doyle-Price for supporting her throughout the past year.

MP Rosie Duffield (2nd left), MP Joanna Cherry QC (2nd right) and writer Graham Linehan (right) during the first LGB Alliance annual conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
MP Rosie Duffield (2nd left), MP Joanna Cherry QC (2nd right) and writer Graham Linehan (right) during the first LGB Alliance annual conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

She told the conference: “We’re OK to talk about everyone else’s rights, but we’re not supposed to talk about women, and we’re not supposed to talk about our bodies without quantifying it or justifying it, or adding on other groups that we also support to, sort of, you know, have our credentials allowed.

“So we’re not allowed to just speak about things that really only do affect women.”

She said being called homophobic was “the most insulting and distressing thing”, and described it as “incredibly hurtful” not to be able to attend Canterbury Pride after being told it was not safe for her to do so.

She said she cannot “shut up” and “be quiet”, adding: “This idea that women’s rights are, we have to justify talking about them is just completely ridiculous and I’m afraid my party is an absolute embarrassment at the moment.”

She said she had seen Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday night, and told him: “Look, I’m trying to be supportive of you as our leader, and he said ‘I know, I know’ and then he got whisked away.”

The LGB Alliance has said rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people are “under threat” in the face of a campaign to replace sex with gender.

The organisation, which describes itself as standing for the rights of same-sex attracted people, said there is currently “so much acrimony” in the debate.

The organisation said it had received a letter from Boris Johnson describing the event as “ground-breaking” and thanking them for their “incredible hard work” as he wished them a successful conference.

The Prime Minister had been invited to attend and but was unable to due to diary pressures, it said.

Mr Johnson was at a church service in County Armagh on Thursday to mark 100 years since the formation of Northern Ireland

A group of demonstrators holding placards saying “Trans rights are human rights” gathered outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where the event was being held.

Ms Doyle-Price said Ms Duffield’s comments make her “an inconvenience” to Labour, adding: “Because she’s forcing her party to face up to what is a conflict of rights.”

The Conservative MP said her own party is having a “more healthy discussion” on the issue.

Meanwhile Ms Cherry told of her concern that being expelled from her party is a real possibility.

She said had been sacked from her post as the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman at Westminster “because I’ve spoken out in favour of lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights and because I’ve spoken out for women’s rights”.

She added: “I don’t want to stand here and criticise the SNP Scottish government because I don’t want to be expelled from my party, which I think could happen to me.”

She said when she got into politics she thought the pursuit of Scottish independence would be “the fight of my life”.

She added: “But at that time I didn’t realise that what probably is now the fight of my life would be to protect women’s rights, and also to protect the rights of lesbians and gay men and bisexuals”.

Asked about the letter, a No 10 spokesman said: “The Government is clear that biology matters and there are different health needs between the sexes.

“We are clear that all transgender people should be treated with dignity and respect.”

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