Once again on yet another issue the UK Labour leader has “changed his mind” from supporting one of the most discriminated groups in our country, he has Flip-Flopped continually, because in 2020 just five months after being elected leader, Starmer posted on Facebook that ‘Trans rights are human rights, and your fight is our fight too. The Labour Party stands proudly with the trans community.’ At this stage, his stance on trans rights is taken to be the same as that which the party had under Jeremy Corbyn. That was articulated in the party’s 2019 manifesto: ‘Labour is committed to reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to introduce self-declaration for transgender people.’ And in a video message for Pink News‘ Pride for All celebrations in which he confirms his commitment to self-ID: ‘Trans people are one of the most discriminated groups in our society. Labour knows how much work there is to do… We’re committed to updating the GRA [Gender Recognition Act] to introduce self-declaration for trans people.
Then speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari during a phone-in, Sir Keir was asked multiple times whether or not ‘a woman can have a penis’. He repeatedly refuses to answer, saying only that ‘I don’t think that discussing this issue in this way helps anyone in the long run. What I want to see is a reform of the law as it is, but I am also an advocate of safe spaces for women.’ However in late 2022 with Labour now comfortably ahead in the polls, Starmer does a Q&A with Mumsnet in which he says that, following the Tavistock scandal, under-18s should not transition without the consent of their parents.
Then a constitutional clash looming between the Westminster and Holyrood governments over the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would make it easier for trans people to change gender. Starmer tells Laura Kuenssberg that he has ‘concerns about the provision in Scotland, in particular the age reduction to 16 and in particular the rejection of our amendment in relation to the Equalities Act.’In a change of position, he says the party’s new goal is to ‘modernise the legislation to take out the indignities’ involved in transitioning. Pressed on Scottish Labour’s support for the bill, Starmer says: ‘Well that was a matter for Scottish Labour. I’m telling you what the position is in relation to the whole Labour Party.’
Following Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation Starmer signals another climbdown on Labour’s transgender stance. Informing reporters at a press conference in Stoke: ‘I think that if we reflect on what’s happened in Scotland, the lesson I take from that is that if you’re going to make reforms, you have to carry the public with you. And I think that’s a very important message, and I think that’s why it’s clear that in Scotland there should be a reset of the situation.’ That was despite the fact that 18 labour MSPs voted in favour of the bill in the Scottish Parliament
Separately, Sky News reported that party strategists are warning Starmer that he will lose the general election campaign ‘on day one’ unless he shifts his position on trans rights. A ‘senior Labour source’ says that ‘If Keir is still being asked by the time the election campaign begins ‘what is a woman?’ then he’s lost on day one. Scotland is a warning to him. He needs to make his position much clearer. There are ways the gender recognition process can be improved, but self-ID is not going to happen under a Labour government.’ This is despite the official Labour Party Twitter account still declaring that it will ‘Modernise the outdated Gender Recognition Act’ in government.
Just one week after the Sky briefing, Starmer insists that if his party wins the next election there will be no ‘rolling back’ of women’s rights.’ He tells the Sunday Times ‘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.’
Appearing on LBC, he repeats his position, saying that ‘for the vast majority – let’s say 99.9 per cent – biology matters’ but insists it’s a marginal issue. He claims that ‘Almost nobody is talking about trans issues. I do sometimes just wonder why on earth we spend so much of our time discussing something which isn’t a feature of the dinner table or the kitchen table or the café table or the bar.’
So if you do support Trans rights the Labour Party may not be for you as Keir has shown his true colours that what Scottish Labour says doesn’t really matter the English Labour Party will have the final say on any legislation and they will not lift the section 35 notice on the Scottish Parliaments legislation.