LGBT+ Labour apologises for inviting ‘gender critical’ journalist Helen Lewis to speak at event
LGBT+ Labour has apologised for inviting journalist Helen Lewis to take part in a panel discussion about the legacy of Maureen Colquhoun, Britain’s first openly gay MP.
There was immediate backlash on social media on Tuesday (1 February) when it was announced that Lewis would be joining Angela Eagle MP and Dr Mairi Todd, Colquhoun’s step-daughter, in a panel discussion about the late Labour politician’s career.
Labour members and trans people were quick to criticise LGBT+ Labour for inviting Lewis to sit on the panel discussion, which was due to go ahead on Wednesday evening (2 February) over Zoom.
Helen Lewis invitation was ‘an oversight’
Shortly after 6.30pm on Tuesday, LGBT+ Labour issued a statement saying one of its panelists had been invited “in error”.
“LGBT+ Labour would like to apologise profoundly for the composition of the panel for our event ‘Remembering Maureen Colquhoun MP’,” the group wrote.
“An invitation was made in error and it has been withdrawn. LGBT+ Labour does not endorse one of the panelist’s views on Gender Recognition Act reform or trans rights, and the organisation stands in total solidarity with our trans siblings. The invitation was an oversight which we have corrected.
“LGBT+ Labour recognises that trans people and their rights face constant attack in the media and from government, and will always advocate for equality for trans and non-binary people.”
LGBT+ Labour would like to apologise profoundly for the composition of the panel for our event “Remembering Maureen Colquhoun MP”. An invitation was made in error and it has been withdrawn. pic.twitter.com/liZ8HWFmoM
— LGBT+ Labour (@LGBTLabour) February 1, 2022
The political group added that it had taken the decision to postpone the event entirely and that it will announce another date in the near future.
Dr Todd criticised LGBT+ Labour’s response, tweeting: “This was supposed to be a celebration of Maureen and Helen Lewis wrote an incredible tribute to her in her book, which gave me huge comfort at a terrible time.
“I am horrified that it has become an argument about something else.”
Lewis has attracted criticism in the past for her vocal criticism of proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) which would allow trans people to self-identify. Numerous countries currently allow trans people to self-identify, meaning they can determine their own legal gender with fewer legal and administrative hurdles.
Plans to introduce a similar system in the UK were scrapped following years of vocal criticism from a group of “gender critical” feminists.
In her columns, Helen Lewis has claimed that allowing trans people to self-identify would prevent women from being able to “challenge someone with a beard exposing their penis in a women’s changing room”.
She was a vocal opponent to reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, stating that proposed changes were “gender’s version of Brexit” and represented a “radical rewriting of our understanding of identity”.
Lewis also described the trans rights movement as “the imperial overreach of a handful of trans activists, in trying to rewrite widely accepted ideas about gender by stealth”. Lewis also complained about being described as a TERF in the same piece.
PinkNews has contacted Helen Lewis and LGBT+ Labour for comment.