Labour’s women problem fuelled by conference row as party rejects stall bid by feminist and gay groups
Labour was embroiled in a fresh row over gender last night after women’s groups claim they have been denied a stall at the party’s conference.
The Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD), the women’s charity FiliA and the lesbian and gay charity LGB Alliance said their requests for a stand was turned down.
The latter two charities, which are not politically affiliated, have been granted stalls at the Conservative and Liberal Democrat conferences.
Labour has struggled with reconciling women’s and trans rights, with Sir Keir Starmer and his frontbenchers unable to define what a woman is.
The Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD), the women’s charity FiliA and the lesbian and gay charity LGB Alliance said their requests for a stand was turned down. Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner and Labour leader Keir Starmer are pictured above at the Pride parade on Saturday
Yesterday Labour MPs and peers, including a frontbencher, called on the party to reverse the decision and allow the LWD and charities into the event in Liverpool in September.
The group includes Tonia Antoniazzi, a Northern Ireland spokesman, Dianne Hayter, a former chairman of Labour’s ruling executive committee, and David Triesman, a former Labour general secretary.
In a statement, LWD said the refusal is ‘part of the party’s historic suppression of dissenting views on gender identity’.
The group added the decision makes ‘the outdated and discriminatory assumption that those of us advocating for more discussion and the protection of women’s rights should not have a platform/voice within the party’.
A spokesman for FiliA, which runs Europe’s largest grassroots feminist conference, said blocking the groups ‘represents a continuation of the attack on organisations and individuals who value and defend sex-based rights’.
The LGB Alliance, which supports lesbian, gay and bisexual people, said: ‘We are deeply disappointed. Keir Starmer will not win back the trust of the voters if he’s not prepared to listen to all voices, not just those with whom he already agrees.’
A Labour source said decisions on conference stands were purely commercial and denied that the groups had been ‘banned’.
A party spokesman said: ‘We receive hundreds of applications for conference stands every year and not everyone can be successful.
‘Labour passed the law that protects women on the basis of their sex and trans people from discrimination. We stand by it.’
However, the group of parliamentarians is challenging the suggestion that the conference was simply oversubscribed.
They say the first application was made in March and claimed a place had been provisionally agreed. Then they received a rejection in May stating the application had been subject to a review before being declined ‘after due consideration’.
The group said it approached Sir Keir and Labour’s equalities spokesman Anneliese Dodds in a bid to reopen discussions but received a second rejection last month.
The parliamentarians are now pushing for their public meeting at the party conference, titled What Women Need From The Labour Manifesto, to be given an official listing.