Starmer grapples with Labour's stance on trans rights and speaks out over 'intolerance'

28 March 2022, 10:53

Sir Keir Starmer hits back at JK Rowling's claims

By Megan Hinton

Sir Keir Starmer said too many people are "intolerant" of transgender issues, but insisted he was also an "advocate for women" as he grappled with his party's position on trans rights on LBC.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

During Call Keir this morning, the Labour leader told Nick Ferrari that the Gender Recognition Act needed "reforming" and that transgender issues need "open discussion" not "intolerance".

A caller, Iris from Aberdeen, asked Nick: "Do you think it's fair that transgender women with all their physical advantages, are allowed to compete in women's sport?"

Sir Keir said: "I think it's for the sporting bodies to decide for themselves how they deal with this, it throws up all sorts of difficult questions."

He refused to answer whether or not it would be "fair" for Lia Thomas to compete in the Paris Olympics saying it is a decision that the committee must make for themselves and it "probably needs more discussion."

Read more: Team GB stars face losing Olympics place as trans cyclist begins racing in female events

Read more: 'Trans athlete stole my spot in final': Swimmer who lost out to Lia Thomas breaks silence

Starmer put on the spot over trans swimmer Lia Thomas competing

Nick Ferrari later grilled Sir Keir several times on whether or not "a women can have a penis", to which he replied: "I'm not... I don't think we can conduct this debate with...

"I don't think that discussing this issue in this way helps anyone in the long run.

"What I want to see is a reform of the law as it is, but I am also an advocate of safe spaces for women and I want to have a discussion that is... anybody who genuinely wants to find a way through this, I want to discuss that with, and I do find that too many people - in my view - retreat or hold a position of which is intolerant of others.

"And that's not picking on any individual at all, but I don't like intolerance, I like open discussion."

Read more: Women 'discriminated against' in sport due to trans participation, ex-GB athlete claims

Read more: Sunak 'considers second council tax rebate' as Labour brands Chancellor 'Mr Tax'

Nick also quizzed the party leader on Harry Potter author JK Rowling's comments after she said earlier this month that the Sir Keir could "no longer be counted on to defend women's rights".

Sir Keir replied: "Of course we can be called on to defend women's rights.

"I spent a lot of my working life dealing with violence against women and girls first-hand, and I know from that experience, just how important it is to fight for women and fight for equality."

He said: "We have had legislation in this country which makes it clear that in some circumstances, particularly at the moment under the law when you've gone through a process, you can be recognised in the gender of your choosing, that's been the position for over a decade now."

Sir Keir Starmer challenged by Nick Ferrari over whether he will take in a Ukrainian refugee?'

Sir Keir said that law needed "reform" but he added: "But I equally - I want to be really clear about this - I am an advocate of safe spaces for women. And that comes from discussions with many many women on this and also from my own experiences of those violence agents women and girls cases."

When asked to clarify whether he was referring to female changing rooms, he replied: "I am actually more concerned about, I mean the example the equalities act applies here says there are some circumstances where you can have exemptions for safe spaces for women.

"The example they give is some refuges for women who have been subjected to violence etc."

Implying that he would not support trans women taking refuge in domestic violence housing.

Labour has found itself in difficulty in recent months over trans issues, with Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield both criticised and heralded for her views.

Ms Duffield came under fire for her opposition to "male-bodied biological men" being allowed to self-identify as female in order to access women-only spaces such as prisons and domestic violence refuges.

She opted not to attend the Labour Party conference in September after receiving threats and being branded transphobic, which she denies. Sir Keir later said the Kent MP had been wrong to say "only women have a cervix".

It came after Sir Keir told The Times "trans women are women" according to statute in the UK, and called for a more "considered, respectful, tolerant debate" about gender.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Nick Adderley has been sacked after panel found him guilty of gross misconduct and lying

Police chief who wore fake Falklands medal found guilty of gross misconduct and sacked for lying

Anthony Hill disappeared on Monday morning

Body found by police searching for Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert colleague Anthony Hill

Just Stop Oil plans major disruption to summer holidays with private jet stunt just the start

Eco mob Just Stop Oil plots summer holiday chaos as group targets airports - labelling private jet stunt a 'prelude'

A British man has been stabbed to death outside Oxygen nightclub in Spain

Brit, 31, suffers ‘violent death’ after being stabbed in fight outside Spanish nightclub

Internet sleuths have flooded social media pages with speculation about Jay Slater's disappearance.

Web sleuths bombard social media pages with conspiracy theories as search for missing Jay Slater enters day five

Princess Kate wishes William happy birthday as she shares adorable family photo amid cancer battle

Princess Kate wishes William happy birthday as she shares adorable family photo amid cancer battle

Jay Slater Tenerife timeline: Hunt for missing British teen Jay Slater enters fifth day - here's what we know

Tenerife timeline: Hunt for missing British teen Jay Slater enters fifth day as Guardia Civill release search footage

Italian football legend Roberto Baggio was hospitalised after a gang attacked him in his home

Football legend Roberto Baggio hospitalised after gang targeted him and his family in terrifying raid at his home

Emily Atack has given birth to her first child - Barney James Garner

'All my dreams have come true': TV star Emily Atack welcomes son Barney with boyfriend Alistair Garner

A friend of missing Jay Slater has said the Spanish police are 'not doing a good enough job' in the search.

Police slammed for ‘not doing enough’ in hunt for missing Jay Slater as friends ‘take search effort into own hands’

Live
Davies said it is “quite difficult to suspend somebody in the middle of an election campaign anyway”

General Election LIVE: Tories found breaking gambling rules should be 'kicked out' says Cabinet minister

Rob Burrow left a series of messages for his children to be shared with them as they grow up, his wife has revealed.

Rob Burrow recorded messages to be shared with children during special life moments as they grow up, his wife reveals

A Met Office weather forecast shows temperatures are set to climb across the UK.

Exact date UK temperatures to soar to 29C in 'hottest weather of year so far', Met Office forecast reveals

Rishi Sunak said he is 'incredibly angry' over election date betting allegations.

Rishi Sunak 'incredibly angry' over election betting allegations as he vows to 'boot out' anyone guilty of wrongdoing

The Queen kept a keen eye on the race through a pair of binoculars.

Frustrated Queen Camilla puts on animated display at Ascot as she watches races with King Charles

Sir Keir said Jeremy Corbyn would have made a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson

Jeremy Corbyn would have made a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson, says Keir Starmer