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Labour’s Lisa Nandy dismisses ‘offensive’ suggestion she’s anti-gay after coming out swinging for trans rights

Vic Parsons February 16, 2020

Lisa Nandy speaking at a hustings event for Labour Leader on February 16, 2020 in London, England. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Labour leadership hopeful Lisa Nandy has dismissed claims that she’s anti-gay as “daft and offensive”, pointing to her record of supporting LGBT+ rights.

This includes her signing, this week, 12 pledges in support of transgender people published by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights.

The Times reported on comments Nandy made in 2001, in an article she wrote as the 21-year-old deputy editor of Newcastle University student newspaper The Courier.

Nandy’s comments were reported by The Times as “it emerged that she had once queried the right of gay students to have their own society at her university”.

In response to The Times article, the Wigan MP said: “I am a staunch defender of LGBTQ rights, I always have been and I always will be. I wrote about a debate around top down or grassroots funding at my uni almost 20 years ago, like a lot of student journalists do.

“The suggestion that I would do anything other than encourage greater understanding and tolerance is daft and offensive.”

In the February 21 2001 article, headlined ‘Paying for their piss up? Lisa Nandy asks if societies are a waste of our money’, Nandy looked at various student societies and what their purpose is.

This included an Austin Powers appreciation society, an environmental campaign group, the Guinness and Real Ale society, the LGB Society and the Catholic society.

Noting that the LGB society wasn’t open to straight members whereas the Catholic society had some non-Catholics in its contact list, Nandy concluded this is “what uni’s all about”.

“Different, sometimes incompatible groups are not merely represented, but positively encouraged from one end of the spectrum to the other.

“It gives everyone a chance to find something they identify with… their continuing existence, whether for a social purpose or much more, is well worth the money.”

This week, Nandy also signed LGBT+ Labour’s list of 10 pledges in support of LGBT+ rights.

Lisa Nandy’s 2001 feature for The Courier.

Lisa Nandy wrote that Newcastle University had more than 90 active students societies, at a cost of around £34,000 per year to the student union.

She covered the purpose of student societies and the value for money of different kinds of student society, writing that “for every People and the Planet [an environmental group] there’s an ‘Oh, behave’ society, founded to ‘celebrate’ Austin Powers in the wake of the latest film”.

“There are safety mechanisms in the system to prevent abuse of funds. Union Council has to decide a society is worth giving money to before it’s ratified. Money can’t be spent on food and drink, or used for profit,” she said.

“But what about societies that are controversial, whose views some might find offensive? Should they receive money – or at least as much money as others?

“The LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) society for example doesn’t accept straight members, but we still have to pay for it, something many find unacceptable.

“This is an exception, however. Other societies must have open membership policies to qualify for funding.

“But there are some whose views people may not want to subsidise. Catholic Society organiser, Joanna Wenham claims this is unfair. She argues everyone is welcome in the Catholic Society and they even boast a couple of non-Catholics on their contact list.”

Lisa Nandy’s 2001 feature for her uni newspaper.

Nandy’s article concludes that this is “what uni’s all about”.

“Different, sometimes incompatible groups are not merely represented, but positively encouraged from one end of the spectrum to the other.

“It gives everyone a chance to find something they identify with. As an expression of the diversity that exists at this university these societies speak volumes.

“Their continuing existence, whether for a social purpose or much more, is well worth the money.”

Nandy strongly backs transgender rights.

At a January leadership hustings, Nandy said that waiting lists for gender identity clinics in the UK are “far, far too long” and that all women must stand together to support trans women.

“I represent some people going through this process in Wigan at the moment, including a young person who’s been waiting for over six months to get any support through the transition process,” she said.

“The Gender Recognition Act, I think in the experience that she’s had and that I’ve had, is stigmatising, is far, far too long and it leaves people without support at the moment they most need it.

“And we’ve seen a rise in transphobic hate crimes in this country in recent years, and I think it’s really important therefore that rather than allowing women to be pitted against each other we stand up together to say very very clearly that trans women are women, and they deserve nothing less than our full support and protection.”

Applause broke out at the hustings, and then Nandy continued: “I believe there is a real problem though, at every level in this party not just in parliament, with representation. And that goes beyond the issue about trans women, it goes further than that.”

PinkNews has reached out to Lisa Nandy for further comment but had not heard back by time of publication.

 

More: Labour Campaign for Trans Rights, lisa nandy, Newcastle University, the times

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