Sir Keir Starmer has stressed there shouldn’t be a ‘rolling back’ of women’s rights in the debate over transgender issues as he sought to clarify his stance.
The Labour leader, who has been accused of having a ‘woman problem’ by one of his MPs, warned against the creation of a ‘toxic divide’ in discussing gender identity that ‘advances the cause of no one’.
He admitted there was a ‘lesson’ to learn from Scotland’s recent row over trans rights after Nicola Sturgeon‘s SNP government pushed ahead with controversial new laws.
Sir Keir called for a ‘reset’ in Scotland and acknowledged ‘if you can’t take the public with you on a journey of reform, then you’re probably not on the right journey’.
The Labour leader has faced internal dissent over his stance on trans issues from Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield.
She has branded it ‘dystopian’ that Sir Keir has previously been reluctant to say whether whether a woman can have a penis.
Sir Keir Starmer warned against the creation of a ‘toxic divide’ in discussing gender identity that ‘advances the cause of no one’
The Labour leader admitted there was a ‘lesson’ to learn from Scotland’s recent row over trans rights after Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP government pushed ahead with controversial new laws
Labour MP Rosie Duffield has branded it ‘dystopian’ that Sir Keir has previously been reluctant to say whether whether a woman can have a penis
The Labour leader has hinted at a changed stance in his approach to trans issues following the fierce row over the SNP’s gender identity reforms.
He has also reportedly been warned by party officials that he must rule out the introduction of gender self-identification under a Labour government – something Sir Keir has previously committed to – or risk losing the next general election.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, the Labour leader has now spoken further about his position on trans rights issues.
‘For 99.9 per cent of women, it is completely biological… and of course they haven’t got a penis,’ he told the newspaper.
‘I think there is a fear that somehow there could be the rolling back of some of the things that have been won.
‘There are still many battles that need to go ahead for women and I don’t think we should roll anything back.
‘I think we should go on to win the next battles for women. And that is a very important sort of starting point for this debate.’
Sir Keir added it was a ‘very small number’ of people who identify as a different gender to the one they are born with.
‘To recognise that they need legal support and a framework and most people don’t disagree with that, and that’s the framework within which we ought to look at these issues,’ he continued.
‘But simply turning it into a toxic divide advances the cause of no one, the cause of women or those that don’t identify with the gender that they were born into.
‘And it’s also a pattern of behaviour of the last ten years which is now turning everything into a toxic culture, when it possibly can, which is the last resort of politicians who have nothing substantive to say on the issue.’
Ms Sturgeon’s resignation as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister came in the wake of a furious row over the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill.
Sir Keir acknowledged that Labour had learned from the SNP’s woes.
‘The lesson from Scotland is that if you can’t take the public with you on a journey of reform, then you’re probably not on the right journey,’ he said.
‘And that’s why I think that collectively there ought to be a reset in Scotland.’