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The LGB Alliance is celebrating after meeting with Manchester mayor Andy Burnham. There’s just one problem

Emma Powys Maurice February 13, 2020
Andy Burnham

Last year Burnham co-signed a letter urging the government to speed up reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty)

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has been strongly criticised for meeting personally with representatives from the ‘anti-trans’ group LGB Alliance.

The controversial group claims to represent lesbian, gay and bisexual people’s rights but has faced an immense backlash from the communities it is supposed to represent. The group also claims that it is not ‘anti-trans’, despite all its work thus far being to the detriment of trans people.

On Monday the LGB Alliance posted on Facebook: “Today LGB Alliance was pleased to be invited to participate in a meeting with the mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, to discuss – among other interconnected issues – questions around sex and gender, the correct application of the Equality Act 2010, and the rights and protections of LGB people.

“We look forward to further engagements on these issues with other influential politicians.”

It was accompanied by a tweet from @elletorrito that read: “Sex based rights and the mayor of Manchester. Thank you Andy Burnham for meeting with grassroots women’s groups and proving that nuanced, respectful conversations about the difference between sex and gender are possible.”

A source confirmed to PinkNews that the meeting occurred, but stated that it was requested by LGB Alliance, rather than by invitation from the mayor as their Facebook post suggested.

Further tweets said that the group discussed the impact of “self sex identification” on sports, sexual orientation, child transition, equal pay, “emerging research of detransition“, Scotland’s GRA reform and “public sector duty to uphold the Equality Act 2010”.

“We need more conversations of this kind: respectful, nuanced, open,” LGB Alliance said.

This was worrying news to LGBT+ advocates. “It is deeply upsetting to see that Andy Burnham has met with the LGB Alliance and given them more of a platform to boast about,” Kobe Bibbon, the Liberal Democrats’ equalities and diversity lead for Gorton told PinkNews.

“The mayor clearly needs to be educated on the kind of organisation that the LGB Alliance is, despite the fact that they’ve left the ‘T’ out of their name.

“At a time when hate crimes against us are on the rise, trans, non-binary and gender diverse people like myself rely on the mayor to keep us safe and stand up to those who seek to spread hate of any kind. Many of us feel that mayor Burnham has failed to do this.

“Andy must do so much better in making our community feel safe. Instead of meeting transphobic groups, he should meet with more pro-trans groups and show his full commitment to his trans, non binary and gender diverse constituents.”

They added: “Andy is up for election this May, can be really expect to count on trans people’s votes if he does stuff like this?”

Andy Kelly, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Manchester mayor, also expressed concern. He told PinkNews: “Trans women are women. LGB Alliance are a group designed to cause pain and hurt in the LGBT+ community.

“Manchester’s representatives today have met with a hate group – placing marginalised people second fiddle to another photo op. Would Burnham meet with the FLA? EDL to hear both sides? I very much doubt it and as our metro mayor we should be informed about what was said in this meeting and by appointment of whom.

“After what took place at last year’s Pride many LGBT+ people are being failed, I am very disappointed to see history repeating itself so soon.”

Andy Burnham and his record on trans rights.

While the mayor’s office was unable to comment on what had been discussed in the private meeting, a statement released on Wednesday reiterated that Burnham “has made his support for the trans community very clear over many years”.

It confirmed that Burnham was not aware prior to the meeting that the individuals were from the LGB Alliance. In their initial letter to him they identified themselves as “Labour party women, senior academics and lawyers” seeking to discuss issues arising from the GRA proposals.

Although Andy Burnham’s office declined to offer his viewpoint on the issues the LGB Alliance raised, his statement clarified that he continues to support the proposed GRA reforms.

In July last year he was one of several UK mayors who wrote to the then-minister for women and equalities Penny Mordaunt, urging her to introduce “desperately needed” reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.

“GRA reform is a key step in addressing the marginalisation of trans and non-binary communities by allowing them to more easily gain legal recognition of their gender identity,” they argued.

They said the current GRA process “creates unnecessary barriers” preventing trans people from achieving legal recognition.

“The government has made commitments to ‘streamline and de-medicalise’ the gender recognition process, a promise that was welcomed by trans and non-binary people across the country. We hope to see this reflected in the new legislation.”

PinkNews reached out to the LGB Alliance for comment, but the group refused to speak on the matter.

More: Andy Burnham, Gender Recognition Act Reform, lgb alliance, Manchester

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