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Labour’s Nadia Whittome condemns Liz Truss for ‘fanning the flames of populist hate’ against trans people

Vic Parsons July 22, 2020
Nadia Whittome: Tories have sparked 'populist hate' against trans people

Labour MP for Nottingham East Nadia Whittome accused Liz Truss of "quibbling" over transgender rights. (Ollie Millington/Getty Images)

Labour’s Nadia Whittome has accused Tory equalities chief Liz Truss of “fanning the flames of populist hate” against the transgender community.

Whittome’s accusation came on the day the government had promised to announce the results of the Gender Recognition Act consultation – a promise that has now been broken.

The 2018 consultation asked the public for their views on potential changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) – the 2004 law that transgender men and women use to gain legal recognition of their gender.

Several successive Tory equalities ministers have promised to publish the results of the GRA consultation and the government’s plan for modernising the law, but have instead repeatedly delayed.

Liz Truss, Boris Johnson’s minister for women and equalities, has provoked alarm over the past three months with her statements on trans rights. Her comments about restricting access to healthcare for trans youth and tinkering with trans people’s right to use to public single-sex spaces have indicated, many have said, a fundamental and possibly deliberate misunderstanding of the GRA’s scope.

Truss had promised to publish the consultation results before parliament goes into summer recess later today. She’s now said that the Tories “will be responding to the consultation over the summer”.

In a women and equalities questions session in the House of Commons this morning, Whittome accused Truss of “quibbling” on this issue and “fanning the flames of populist hate” against trans people.

Nadia Whittome, UK’s youngest MP, stands up for trans community.

Nadia Whittome recently encouraged any trans people who want to run for parliament to get in touch with her – the UK has never had an openly transgender or non-binary MP.

In February, she was the first of a handful of Labour MP’s to sign the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights pledges, publicly vowing to expel transphobes from the Labour Party.

Today, the MP for Nottingham East reiterated in the House of Commons that “successive Conservative equalities ministers have repeatedly stalled on publishing the results of the Gender Recognition Act consultation”.

Read our open letter to Boris Johnson here.

The 23-year-old – who became the youngest sitting MP when she was elected in December 2019, aged 23 – continued: "Leaked reports on a potential rollback of trans rights have understandably caused alarm.

"With hate crimes on trans people up nearly 40 per cent on last year, does the secretary of state agree that her quibbling on this issue is fanning the flames of populist hate towards an already marginalised group?"

Truss responded by saying that the government would not be "rolling back trans rights".

"Let me be absolutely clear," Truss said. "We will not be rolling back the rights of transgender people. It is important that transgender people are able to live their lives as they wish, without fear, and we will be making sure that is the case."

Shadow equalities minister Marsha de Cordova pushes Liz Truss on trans rights.

Labour's shadow minister for women and equalities, Marsha de Cordova, also asked Truss about the GRA consultation.

This comes after discontent among Labour members about Cordova and Keir Starmer's tepid response to the government's stalling on publishing the GRA consultation results.

"The consultation closed in 2018," Cordova said. "Nearly two years later, the government has still not published its response. Trans rights are human rights and updating the GRA will help improve the lives of trans people.

"Today the House will rise, and previously the minister has stated that they would be publishing their response. So, can I ask the minister today, when will she finally publish the government's response and the government's plans for reform?"

Again, Truss responded that the government would publish the results over the summer.

"That's been committed by the prime minister earlier this week and I can assure her that I'm very keen to get on with that response," Truss said.

She also added that the government is "committed to tackling discrimination against transgender people".

"We've invested £4 million for schools to tackle anti-LGBT+ bullying and we've addressed homophobic hate crime in the hate-crime action plan."

It's a big investment from the Tories: Four million pounds is enough money to buy Parker pens for the entire population of Leicester.

 

More: Boris Johnson, gender recognition act, GRA Reform, liz truss, Marsha de Cordova, Nadia Whittome, single-sex spaces, trans rights

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