Labour’s shadow justice secretary ‘agrees’ with JK Rowling’s ‘gender-critical’ views

Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood and shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood

The shadow justice secretary is reported to have said she agrees with JK Rowling that “biological sex is real and immutable”. 

During a speech on Monday (22 April), Shabana Mahmood reportedly backed so-called gender-critical women, saying they are “perfectly entitled” to voice their views. 

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has become well-known in recent years for expressing her views on the trans community, often criticising gender-neutral language and advocating for cisgender-women-only spaces.

“Hashtag movements are sometimes used to shut down debate and often many women have had to go to court, usually in employment tribunals, in order to clarify their rights to free speech,” Mahmood, the MP for Birmingham Ladywood, was reported as saying by The Telegraph

“To clarify their right to believe that for example because you referenced JK Rowling, clarify their right to say that biological sex is real and is immutable – a position that I also agree with,” she added.

“They shouldn’t be in the position of losing their jobs for having views that are perfectly legal, and that they are perfectly entitled to express.”

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Speaking to lawyers at Gray’s Inn, in central London, in her first major speech since taking up the role in September, Mahmood said the debate around trans rights and Rowling had become “toxic”, and everyone should be able to “take refuge in the laws of our land, they’re there to protect everybody.”

Mahmood is one of a number of Labour politicians who have come under fire in recently for sympathising with or expressing “gender-critical” or anti-trans views.

Early this month, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting was criticised for expressing regret for previously saying “trans men are men, trans women are women… get over it.” He now believes there are “lots of complexities” to the issue.

And in January, Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP for Canterbury since 2017, was cleared of allegations of transphobia and antisemitism by her party. She is known for her “gender-critical” comments, railing against gender-neutral language, and claiming she would rather be arrested than call comedian Suzy Eddie Izzard, who has been a party member since 1995, a woman.