The party-affiliated group LGBT+ Labour has issued a statement criticising Labour MP Rosie Duffield over her recent comments about women and calling for “measurable action” from the leadership.
The 45-year-old socialist society, which has patrons from across Labour’s spectrum but would usually be seen as aligned with the new leadership, said it had decided to comment “with great sadness”.
The statement describes Duffield’s assertion that “only women have a cervix” as “exclusionary language” and “very troubling”, and says the criticism that followed was “met with hostility”.
LGBT+ Labour also highlights that the Canterbury MP shared a Spectator article that referred to a “transgender thought police” and to the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights as “authoritarian… petulant youngsters”.
The campaign group LCTR had asked the Labour Party whips to “take this forward” and for Labour’s complaints team to “take forward the numerous complaints we know of already” about Duffield.
The Spectator piece, written by trans Labour member Dr Debbie Hayton, called on Keir Starmer to “dismiss the wild demands” of LCTR and “speak out against those in his party who are condemning women for airing their thoughts”.
Starmer has not commented publicly about Duffield’s tweets or the criticism she received from party members. Several Labour MPs, including frontbenchers Rachel Reeves, Jess Phillips and Wes Streeting, have defended their colleague.
In an interview earlier this month, Phillips said: “I hand on heart don’t think that Rosie Duffield is a transphobe.” The shadow minister has been criticised herself in the past for defending Woman’s Place UK.
The LGBT+ Labour statement released on Monday evening reads: “We have spent the past few days reaching out to Rosie Duffield and her office to attempt to initiate steps towards an apology and reparations.
“Since we have approached Rosie Duffield, she has continued to like and share tweets from people known by the trans community as hostile to their rights.
“Unfortunately we have not reached a conclusion that our committee sees as an adequate response for her repeated actions.”
The group has now demanded that the Labour leadership “take measurable action on this situation” and confirmed that it “will be writing to Keir Starmer on behalf of our members to ask for a response”.
Kira Lewis, who is currently running for Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) youth representative post against incumbent Lara McNeill, wrote the LGBT+ Labour statement according to a tweet.
Labour peers Philip Hunt and Glenys Thornton, who is the party’s shadow spokesperson for health in the House of Lords, have both said via tweets that the statement is “nonsense”.
Duffield later responded on social media. She wrote: “The last few days have been difficult and distressing for myself and my fantastic team of staff. I am, and always have been, completely supportive of trans rights.”
She added: “This conversation has been too toxic and ruled by bad faith actors for far too long. The issues have been hijacked by those at either extreme of the political spectrum, and used on social media as a tool to further personal agendas.
“I will not accept different groups of women being pitted against each other and I know that we can work together towards language that accommodates everyone.”
The Canterbury MP said she understands how “choice of language is important in this debate and acknowledge that carelessness can cause offence – I am sorry for any offence my own recent use of language on this issue may have caused”.