17,000 call on The Sun to apologise for ‘joke’ about blind transgender candidate

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Over 17,000 people have signed a petition calling on The Sun to apologise for publishing a column questioning how a blind, transgender Labour candidate knew “she was the wrong sex”.

Earlier this week, in a rare move, Labour’s Emily Brothers, who is standing for Parliament in Sutton and Cheam, came out as transgender in an interview with PinkNews.

Reacting to the news, Rod Liddle – former editor of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today Programme’, wrote in the Sun: “She’ll be standing at the next election in the constituency of Sutton and Cheam. Thing is though, being blind, how did she know she was the wrong sex?”

However, the quip with poorly received, with London Labour attacking the “vile comments”.

Mr Liddle has sine apologised, saying: “I wish Emily the very best and I’d definitely vote for her if I lived in Sutton and Cheam. I am sorry for the poor joke!”

However, The Sun’s head of PR Dylan Sharpe took to Twitter to defend the comments, which he claims are “free speech”.

Mr Sharpe tweeted: “I, like The Sun, believe in free speech and I think Rod was writing it with his tongue firmly in his cheek.”

“The Sun’s position is in our editorials. The columnists write their own opinions. Same in every newspaper!”

A petition calling on the newspaper to apologise for publishing the column has so far attracted over 17,000 signatures.

It says: “By reducing her down to her blindness and transness, Liddle has contributed to the dehumanisation and oppression of trans people and those with disabilities, and has helped uphold ableist and transphobic norms in politics.

“We deserve better, and as such The Sun should publicly apologise.”

Emily Brothers has also attacked the “ridiculous” comments, telling the Independent: “My position is that I think it’s a cheap comment that doesn’t surprise me coming from The Sun.

“But my concern is how other transgender people feel about these comments, particularly those who are going through the transitioning process and are fearful of other people’s reactions, and fearful of being ridiculed.

“The question I would ask him is this: When he turns the lights out, does he not realise he is a man?”