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Tue, 29 September 2020

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Labour LGBT+ affiliate calls on Keir Starmer to take ‘measurable action’ against MP Rosie Duffield over controversial tweets

Labour LGBT+  affiliate calls on Keir Starmer to take ‘measurable action’ against MP Rosie Duffield over controversial tweets

Rosie Duffield attracted controversy on Twitter over comments she made about transgender people (Canterbury Labour/Facebook)

3 min read

Labour’s official LGBT+ group is calling on the party to take “measurable action” against Rosie Duffield over “troubling” comments she made about transgender people.

In a statement, the group said they felt “deep disappointment” at the Canterbury MP’s actions and that attempts to “initiate steps towards an apology and reparations” had not resulted in an “adequate response”.

And they announced plans to write to Sir Keir Starmer “on behalf of our members” to seek the party leader’s response on the situation. 

Ms Duffield attracted controversy earlier this month after liking a Twitter post by TV presenter Piers Morgan in which he admonished broadcaster CNN for referring to “individuals with a cervix”.

Mr Morgan tweeted in response: "Do you mean women?"

But critics argued that the post by Mr Morgan was transphobic.

Following attacks on Twitter for liking the message, the Labour MP responded: “I'm a 'transphobe' for knowing that only women have a cervix?”

LGBT+ Labour said of her comment: “This statement is very troubling as it ignores both trans men and numerous non-binary people's existence. 

“Many Labour activists, especially from the trans community, raised their anxieties over this exclusionary language and were met with hostility.”

“With already rising levels of hatred towards the trans community, the bare minimum to expect from Labour MPs is full solidarity and support.”

The group also criticised Ms Duffield for subsequently sharing a Spectator article on the incident which referred to the "transgender thought police" and described the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights as "authoritarian... petulant youngsters".

The LGBT+ group said in response: “It is clear that this has contributed towards a situation where our party has become a space where trans and non-binary members do not feel as safe and protected as they should."

'DOES NOT SEEK TO DEMEAN OTHERS'

Sir Keir has yet to publicly respond to the comments, but Ms Duffield has received messages of support from Labour MPs Jess Phillips, Wes Streeting and Rachel Reeves, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ms Phillips told Times Radio earlier this month: “I hand on heart don’t think that Rosie Duffield is a transphobe.

“What I think that is happening in this case, and it’s the same for a number of different subjects that get discussed on Twitter, is that we soon find out that reasonable policy debate about sometimes difficult and complex issues – Twitter is not the place to be doing that.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote on Twitter: “I know Rosie Duffield who is a brilliant constituency MP for Canterbury as well as brave, honest, kind and passionate for justice. She does not seek to demean others.”

Shadow Cabinet Secretary Ms Reeves responded: “Thank you [Justin Welby]. It is sad that it needs saying, but it does.”

Ms Duffield and the Labour Party have been contacted for comment. 

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