Labour leadership candidates warn of ‘dangerous’ government making anti-LGBT discrimination ‘morally and socially acceptable’

Lisa Nandy, Kier Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer warned against LGBT+ rights being eroded and stressed of the importance of Labour party members leading the fight against hate.

Speaking at the LGBT+ Labour leadership hustings, presented by PinkNews and supported by Diva, the leadership candidates were united in their criticism of the government.

Long-Bailey said that “unfortunately, we’re way beyond worrying” about populism and anti-LGBT+ views getting into the mainstream.

“We have a prime minister who thinks it’s acceptable to take about tank-topped bum boys, who calls Muslim women letter boxes and black people piccaninnies with watermelon smiles.

This is a right-wing government that is making this form of discrimination morally and socially acceptable. That is something as a Labour Party we need to tackle quite urgently.

Nandy said that she wants to see “more light, less heat” on the issue of trans rights, and said that she would try to balance “the very real concerns that women have about safety” with standing up “for one of the most marginalised communities in the country”.

“The way we’ve allowed one group of women’s rights to be pitted against another is disgraceful.”

Starmer warned against the media “amplifying hatred” against trans people.

“I see the echoes of Section 28. The same arguments, the same examples, are being used in a different context. Just as we battled it then, so we have to battle it now.”

Long-Bailey said unequivocally that transphobic views are “not welcome within our party”.

“That doesn’t shut down discussion, but it must be conducted in a respectful way.”

All three were in agreement that an independent complaints process for hate within the party is vital in tackling issues such as homophobia, transphobia and anti-semitism.

Nandy argued that in recent years, “we’ve lost the ability to understand each other”.

It’s become a very binary, reductional debate. That isn’t how we do things in the Labour Party, that’s the way the Tories do things.

Long-Bailey stressed the need to empower Labour members to “organise in communities” and “educate beyond the party”.

Starmer agreed, saying: “We are the party that is the social and moral compass of the UK, and we expect our members to be out there changing the culture and fostering a culture based on respect and love.”

On the wider issues faced by the UK’s LGBT+ community, all three agreed that homophobic and transphobic hate crime should be made an aggravated offence, and that a “strong stand” against conversion therapy is needed.

The candidates were also united in their support for self-identification for trans people, inclusive relationship education, and backed a full-scale roll-out of PrEP.

Nandy, Starmer and Long-Bailey spoke after the deputy leadership hustings, during which Dawn Butler and Angela Rayner criticised the “homophobic” prime minister for deliberately stoking “toxic debate” around trans rights.