Exclusive: Labour rejects complaints from anti-transgender activists in all-women shortlists row

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

PinkNews has obtained a leaked letter from the Labour Party’s General Secretary, Jennie Formby, which confirms the party supports the right of trans women to run for election via women-only shortlists.

The party is facing threats of a legal challenge from activists seeking to block transgender women from running for Parliament via the all-women shortlists (AWS) mechanism, which has been used since 1997 to boost representation of women in politics.

In recent months the party has repeatedly put off a National Executive Committee vote that would confirm an official stance in support of trans women standing via AWS.

However, PinkNews can reveal that the party’s General Secretary Jennie Formby has already confirmed the party’s position in response to a legal challenge.

In a pre-action protocol letter dated March 29, Formby confirms: “The Party’s position… is that its AWS are open to all women, including Trans women; and that Trans women do not need a GRC [Gender Recognition Certificate] to participate in an AWS.”

Justifying the policy, Formby adds: “The Party has a clear position to support reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 so it is in line with the principles of gender self-declaration.

“In Labour’s 2017 manifesto we also pledged to reform the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that this protects Trans people by changing the protected characteristic of ‘gender assignment’ to ‘gender identity’ and remove other outdated language such as ‘transsexual’.

“The Party has therefore chosen to give effect to these policies by allowing, in particular, the inclusive operation of AWS – so that those shortlists are open to all women – including self-identifying Trans women.

“In adopting this position, the Party is satisfied that it is acting consistently with both the letter and spirit of the relevant legislation – in particular the Equality Act 2010 and the Gender Recognition Act 2004.”

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