Labour shadow equalities minister Taiwo Owatemi systematically condemns LGB Alliance
Labour’s new shadow minister for women and equalities, Taiwo Owatemi, has issued a damning letter against the LGB Alliance.
Owatemi, who was appointed to the shadow equalities brief three weeks ago, wrote a letter condemning the pressure group while backing the “peaceful protests” of LGBT+ students against the employment of anti-trans professor Kathleen Stock.
Calls from LGBT+ students for the University of Sussex to fire Stock, a philosophy professor, over her trans-exclusionary views have sparked a national debate over the limits of academic freedom, with the university defending its staff’s “untrammelled right to say and believe what they think” and LGBT+ students accusing leadership of being “anti-student and pro-transphobia“. Stock vehemently denies she is transphobic.
Owatemi said that while she is unfamiliar with Stock’s work she is “greatly concerned” by the professor’s position as a trustee of anti-trans charity LGB Alliance, whose activities she is “highly critical” of.
“LGB Alliance – whose application for charitable status was opposed by over 50 LGBT+ groups, as well as politicians from all parties – should be rejected by all those who believe in equality,” Owatemi wrote in a 13 October letter that was shared on Twitter.
Owatemi continued by comprehensively naming the anti-trans beliefs of the LGB Alliance, including that the group “opposes LGBT+ inclusive education”, oppose trans adolescents accessing puberty blockers “in flagrant disregard of the entire concept of ‘Gillick’ competency”, is critical of attempts to make a conversion therapy ban trans-inclusive, “rejects the very existence of non-binary people”, and “refuse to condemn as homophobic” people who voted against equal marriage.
“Every single one of these stances is diametrically opposed to my beliefs and the positions of my party,” Owatemi concluded. “I note that an appeal against their [LGB Alliance] charitable status is due to take place next year, and I will be monitoring the case with a keen interest.”
I am excited to be taking on my new role as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities. Championing equality and celebrating who you are goes to the heart of why I first stood to be a Member of Parliament.
— Taiwo Owatemi MP (@TaiwoOwatemi) September 21, 2021
Owatemi was responding to a letter from a pressure group in Coventry campaigning on the basis of “women’s sex based rights”. Owatemi has been MP for Coventry North West since December 2019.
The group said on Twitter that it had written to Owatemi “in support of Kathleen Stock” and branded her response “appalling”, adding that it “slates and possibly defames” the LGB Alliance.
Owatemi also confirmed that she supports GRA reform, which would streamline the process and make it simpler for trans people to obtain legal gender recognition, “which has long been the position of my party and to which we remain committed”.
Kathleen Stock accused of ‘transphobic fearmongering’ by 600 academics
Kathleen Stock has faced considerable backlash over her views, including from an international cohort of 600 philosophers earlier this year who criticised her “harmful rhetoric” about trans and gender non-conforming people, which they said “reinforces the patriarchal status quo“.
Stock says her rhetoric is based on a belief that sex is immutable and more important than gender identity, “particularly when it comes to law and policy”. She has written that she supports trans people’s rights to live “free from fear, violence, harassment or any discrimination”, but has also called trans women “males with male genitalia”.
The Council of Europe recently linked “the ‘gender-critical’ movement, which wrongly portrays trans rights as posing a particular threat to cisgender women and girls” with the rise in transphobic violence in the UK.
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The criticism from Stock’s peers was prompted by the British government awarding her an OBE. The academics said they were concerned about a “tendency to mistake transphobic fearmongering for valuable scholarship, and attacks on already marginalised people for courageous exercises of free speech”.
Stock is a signatory of the Women’s Human Rights Declaration (WHRC), which calls for the “elimination” of “the practice of transgenderism” as well as the repeal of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), the 2004 law that allows adult trans men and women to change their legal gender.
The LGB Alliance claims to advocate for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, but devotes the majority of its efforts to opposing trans rights. The group’s upcoming conference, according to a widely-shared schedule, includes discussions on topics such as “is gender identity child abuse or child conversion?”, “erasing LGB in language, law and data” and “cancel culture and free speech”/