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LGBT Leaders: Lawmakers reject radical feminist transphobia

Sofia Lotto Persio October 12, 2018

LGBT+ people should be supporting the trans community in the reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), a panel of LGBT+ politicians said on Friday (October 12).

With only a week to go before the public consultation on the GRA reform closes, support for transgender rights dominated a discussion on the future of LGBT+ rights in the UK at opening evening of the LGBT Leaders conference, presented by PinkNews and hosted by Freshfields.

Within the [LGBT] community, the four initials right now, there is no excuse to do anything other than supporting one another,” said Baroness Liz Barker, a Liberal Democrat peer who publicly came out during the passage of the Marriage Act in 2013.

Baroness Barker commended Prime Minister Theresa May for choosing to champion transgender equality, but criticised how long it took for the government to launch the consultation, in July, after first announcing plans to reform the GRA in October.

That delay, according to Baroness Barker, allowed “self-identified radical feminists” to organise and “put together a whole series of assumptions and generalisations.” She compared the strategies adopted by these groups to those historically adopted by people “to foster hatred agains minorities” and called for people to “reclaim feminism.”

Stephen Doughty, Labour and Co-operative Parliamentary MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, also tapped on the viciousness of the debate surrounding the consultation and compared some of the headlines published with relations to trans issues to those that a few decades ago would be directed at LGB people. 

“For the vast majority of trans people who want to get on with their lives this is incredibly damaging,” Doughty said.

John Blair MLA, the first openly gay MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly, speaks at the LGBT Leaders 2018 conference presented by PinkNews. (Paul Grace)

Baroness Barker advised people to take part in the consultation, to talk respectfully to trans people—keeping in mind how personal this conversation may be for them—and to talk to your MP.

The panel also advised the public to contact their representative to discuss marriage equality in Northern Ireland, the only part of the United Kingdom that had yet to grant same-sex couples the right to marry.

“If persuasion comes from right sources across the islands, progress can be made,” said John Blair, MLA for South Antrim, the first openly gay elected representative in Northern Ireland.

Blair was still reeling from the outcome of the Supreme Court decision on the Northern Ireland-based bakery that refused to bake a cake for a gay man that featured a pro-marriage equality message—the court cleared the bakers of discrimination on Wednesday. 

“I’m disappointed, but I accept the outcome,” he said, “The person that makes most noise does not represent the majority of people.”

More: John Blair, LGBT Leaders, Liz Barker, Stephen Doughty

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