Labour LGBT+ group faces searing backlash for holding ‘secret, unverifiable meeting’ with Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer watches on sat in a cushioned chair wearing a suit

The official LGBT+ Labour group has been criticised for holding a “secret, unverifiable” meeting with Keir Starmer that resulted in little but “hollow platitudes”.

Starmer had a meeting with representatives of LGBT+ Labour on Wednesday evening (7 April), the group announced on Twitter.

The LGBT+ advocacy group described the meeting as “positive”, claiming Keir Starmer “repeated his apology to the LGBT+ community” for his visit to anti-LGBT+ church Jesus House last week.

He also committed to bring forward policies to advance LGBT+ equality and backed a ban on conversion therapy, the group said.

Alex Beverley, chair of LGBT+ Labour, said on Friday (9 April) that the group’s meeting with Starmer was “a short initial meeting”.

“We spoke about tackling transphobia in UK Labour, hate crime, LGBT+ healthcare and LGBT+ issues being considered intersectionally across front bench policy areas – this is a start, we will continue to meet and only actions will determine progress,” she wrote on social media.

However, many LGBT+ Labour members criticised the group for a lack of transparency around what was discussed at the meeting.

Others questioned whether transphobia within the Labour Party was given sufficient airtime during the meeting, or whether it was raised at all.

Katherine Foy, a trans Labour activist, criticised LGBT+ Labour for holding “secret, unverifiable meetings” with senior party figures that yield “non-specific commitments”.

“Time and again over the past year it has felt like LGBT+ Labour exists solely to keep LGBT+ members in line, docile and compliant, for the benefit of the party,” Foy tweeted.

“Who are you for, and what will it take for you to demand measurable action from the leadership?” she asked, saying Labour members “deserve better accountability than this”.

Osh Gantly, a trans Labour councillor for Islington, shared LGBT+ Labour’s tweet about the meeting, branding it “shameless drivel”, saying the LGBT+ community “deserves better”.

Elsie Greenwood, chair of Scottish Young Labour, revealed on Thursday (8 April) that she had resigned from her position as Scotland representative for LGBT+ Labour.

Responding to the group’s meeting with Keir Starmer, Greenwood said: “We need transparency and action, not hollow platitudes.”

Charlie Caine, founding member of the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights, asked LGBT+ Labour if transphobia within the party was raised during the meeting.

“What about transphobia? You did speak to him about that right?” Caine asked.

“What is happening with [Rosie] Duffield? What is happening with the extreme amounts of transphobia in Labour? Not good enough.”

Caine said he is “totally disgusted” by the group’s “lack of solidarity”.

“They had a chance to bring our severe grievances to the leadership. They failed. These conversations behind closed doors are not good enough where there are no actions.”

He added: “This was your chance to stand up for us – your members – your community. You failed.”

LGBT+ Labour’s meeting with Starmer comes just days after the leader of the opposition faced resounding criticism from queer members for visiting Jesus House, a notoriously anti-LGBT+ church in London.

Starmer faced blistering backlash when he shared a video detailing his visit to Jesus House on Twitter on Good Friday (2 April).

Despite mounting criticism, Starmer did not apologise until late on Monday evening (5 April), clarifying that he disagreed with Jesus House’s views on LGBT+ people.

“I apologise for the hurt my visit caused and have taken down the video. It was a mistake and I accept that,” Starmer tweeted.

LGBT+ Labour were approached for comment.