Anneliese Dodds says Labour won’t use LGBTQ+ rights as ‘political football’ – despite failing to oppose Section 35

Anneliese Dodds in parliament

Shadow equalities minister Anneliese Dodds has said Labour will not use LGBTQ+ rights as a “political football”, just weeks after the party failed to oppose the Tories unprecedented block of Scotland’s gender reforms. 

On Thursday (2 February) a debate on LGBT+ History Month, moved by Labour MP Dame Angela Eagle, was held in the House of Commons. 

MPs including Nadia Whittome, Olivia Blake and Elliott Colburn shared their personal relationships with LGBT+ History Month, with opposition MPs pushing minister for equalities Stuart Andrew on issues including the conversion therapy ban, abuses of LGBTQ+ rights abroad and hate crime rates. 

Speaking at the debate, Dodds – the shadow secretary of state for women and equalities – told the house that Labour would seek to restore the UK’s “reputation as a beacon of LGBT+ freedom and equality”. 

Rather, that is, than use LGBTQ+ rights as a “political football or an afterthought”. 

The shadow minister’s words comes just two weeks after the party failed to oppose the government’s move to block Scotland’s landmark reforms to its gender laws by using Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998. 

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The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed by Scottish parliament 86-39 in December and was heralded as a landmark moment for LGBTQ+ rights. 

However, on 17 January Scotland secretary Alister Jack announced the government would invoke Section 35 to halt the bill from gaining Royal Assent, an unprecedented political move. 

A vote ‘to note’ motion for Section 35 was subsequently held which all Labour MPs – bar 11 rebels – abstained from. 

This abstention notably included Dodds and the Labour leader, Keir Starmer.

Similar words have been used before

In a statement shared with PinkNews at the time of the Section 35 vote, Dodds similarly used the phrase “political footballs”. 

She said: “This is a failure of leadership from both the Conservatives and the SNP. 

“Both governments should have worked together to sort out these issues in a sensible, grownup way to avoid this constitutional row. 

“Trans rights and women’s rights must not be used as political footballs.

“Labour supports modernisation of the gender recognition process, but we would not have gone about it this way. For example, UK Labour does not support reducing the age at which you can get a GRC to 16.

“Now we need both governments to behave like adults and sort this situation out. That includes the Conservative government publishing its legal advice in full as soon as possible, as Labour has called for.”