Keir Starmer has said that Labour will scrutinise new government proposals on the Gender Recognition Act after it was reported that ministers intend to drop plans for reform.
Asked about the reports, Starmer’s spokesperson said: “We haven’t actually seen any details of these proposals. The government hasn’t put any proposals forward. Once they do, we’ll look at them and take a view.”
Pressed further, the Labour leader’s spokesperson replied: “Keir said repeatedly during the Labour leadership campaign that trans rights are human rights.
“Labour is absolutely committed to trans people and supports updating the Gender Recognition Act and upholding the Equality Act.
“We need to see the details of whatever the government intends to bring forward or not, but Keir is absolutely clear that trans rights are human rights, and we stand by that commitment.”
Asked which part of the GRA that Starmer wanted updated, his spokesperson said: “Keir has been clear on this issue… Labour has a proud history of advancing LGBT rights.”
He added: “We want to work with all sides of the debate… This is a nuanced debate, which has to be considered carefully.”
On whether Starmer stands by the 2019 Labour manifesto position on gender recognition, he said: “Keir stood on that manifesto and Keir has a proud history of supporting advances in human rights across a variety of areas.”
The Labour leader’s spokesperson was asked about the recent intervention of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who said she had “concerns around single-sex spaces”.
The spokesperson said: “This is a nuanced debate, a very important debate, and what Keir wants to do is work closely with all sides of this debate in scrutinising the government proposals and ensuring that we remain committed to trans rights.”
He confirmed that Starmer condemned the death threats received by Rowling following the publication of an essay on her website that responded to criticism of her position.
It was reported over the weekend by the Sunday Times that the government is scrapping proposals that would make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender.
The article said that a ban on conversion therapy would instead be introduced to “placate LGBT people”, and said the government believed the consultation results were “skewed by an avalanche of responses generated by trans rights groups”.
The Tory government launched a public consultation on the issue in July 2018 as minister Penny Mordaunt said the UK needed to “end the nonsense of people having different documents in different genders”.
Starmer’s spokesperson was also asked extending the Brexit transition period, in response to which he said: “This is a government with a majority of 80. They are responsible for this… The government has said it will get a deal by the end of the year and we will hold them to it.”
On whether Labour would support a war memorials offence carrying a possible ten-year jail sentence, the spokesperson said: “It is already a criminal offence to damage public property. We haven’t seen this legislation, we’ve only seen speculation.”