Labour leader Keir Starmer slammed for ‘throwing trans people under the bus’ in ‘hypocritical’ interview

Labour leader Keir Starmer

The British Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has been criticised by the LGBTQ+ community and allies after giving an interview littered with worrying anti-trans comments. 

Speaking to The Sunday Times on Saturday (1 April), Starmer indulged a reductive questioning over whether women “can have a penis”, and the “debate” about trans rights vs women’s rights, as though the two are mutually exclusive. 

He also made a chilling pronouncement that seemingly amounts to support for schools “outing” trans youth to their parents, saying that he “would want to know” if his child identified as trans or non-binary. 

Starmer said: “Look, of course I’d want to know. I say that as a parent. I would want to know and I think the vast majority of parents would want to know. 

“That’s why we have to have national guidance on it and they should try to make it cross-party, because it’s not helpful to parents or schools to have this as just a toxic divide when what’s needed is practical, common sense advice.”

When asked about the sex organs that women “can have”, instead of shutting down this invasive line of questioning, Starmer said: “For 99.9 per cent of women, it is completely biological … and of course they haven’t got a penis.”

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Vowing that there would be no “rolling back on women’s rights”, the Labour leader went on to say: “I think there is a fear that somehow there could be the rolling back of some of the things that have been won.

“There are still many battles that need to go ahead for women and I don’t think we should roll anything back. I think we should go on to win the next battles for women. And that is a very important sort of starting point for this debate.”

In response to the Sunday Times article, LGBTQ+ people, allies and Labour supporters – both current and former – frustrated by Starmer’s perceived hypocrisy and dishonesty over a number of issues, including his stance on trans rights, have taken to Twitter.

Trans broadcaster India Willoughby tweeted her summary of the Times interview: “‘We must protect women from you – but we will crack down on anyone who calls you names.’ Keir Starmer to the UK trans community, March 2023.”

Another user wrote: “As an acknowledged and accredited world expert in trans youth, I can confidently say that your plan to forcibly, and without their permission, out trans kids to their parents will result in domestic violence and child abuse.”

“I have spent the last 5 hours in a space full of young and trans accepting people. They gave me real hope for the future. Keir Starmer meanwhile panders to the right-wing Times readership, elderly and unforgiving disillusioned Tories. Political stupidity of the highest order,” reads one disappointed tweet. 

Others were quick to point out the “hypocrisy” of Keir Starmer marching with a trans flag in London Pride 2022.

“Why is ANYONE surprised useless @Keir_Starmer doesn’t support Trans people. Keir is a hypocrite ally desperate to gain right-wing votes.”

The Trans Safety Network tweeted: “We note that Keir Starmer is continuing to throw the trans community – many members of whom have worked tirelessly for the Labour Party now and in the past – under the bus.

“His latest act is to publish anti-trans comments in the Murdoch press. This is unacceptable.”

In the interview, Starmer also sought to distance himself from Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to trans rights, saying that lessons could be learned from Scotland and suggesting that the public was not “with Sturgeon” on gender recognition reform.  

“The lesson from Scotland is that if you can’t take the public with you on a journey of reform, then you’re probably not on the right journey,” he told The Sunday Times. “And that’s why I think that collectively there ought to be a reset in Scotland.”

The Scottish government, under former first minister Nicola Sturgeon passed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in December 2022, a piece of legislation that makes it easier for trans folks to live as their true gender – and aligns with leading international practices endorsed by the United Nations.

The bill was later blocked by the UK government in Westminster, in an unprecedented use of a section 35 order, which Sturgeon described as a “full-frontal attack” on the Scottish parliament. 

Newly-elected first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, Humza Yousaf, has pledged to uphold Sturgeon’s bill and mount a legal challenge against Westminster over the use of section 35.

A Labour source told Sky News on 24 March that “self-ID is not going to happen under a Labour government” and that “Scotland is a warning” to the opposition leader.

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