Rebecca Long-Bailey says women's refuges must accept trans women

17 February 2020, 06:53

Labour leadership candidates Lisa Nandy (L) and Rebecca Long-Bailey (R) have spoken out on trans rights
Labour leadership candidates Lisa Nandy (L) and Rebecca Long-Bailey (R) have spoken out on trans rights. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Labour leadership candidate says trans prisoners, including those convicted of sexual offences, should be locked up in jails that match their chosen gender.

Speaking to a leadership hustings Lisa Nandy told supporters that inmates who self-identify, such as convicted child rapist Zoe Lynes who now identifies as female, should have their crimes recorded as being committed by their chosen gender.

Ms Nandy, 40, told the audience: “I believe fundamentally in people’s right to self-ID. I believe the gender recognition act strikes the wrong balance in relation to that

“Crimes that are recorded should be recorded as that person wishes having gone through that process."

She added: “Trans women are women and trans men are men and should be accommodated in the prison of their choosing.”

A policy of self-identification would allow trans people legally to declare their preferred gender without requiring medical certification.

The comments come after one of her rivals in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn said that equality law should be changed to give trans people a legal right to enter women-only spaces.

Rebecca Long-Bailey vowed to change laws to stop women's refuges excluding trans women, she told Labour members to "stop having this debate."

The leadership candidate explained her stance after she signed up to a campaign to battle women's rights groups which are believed to be "transphobic" and called for offending Labour members to be kicked out of the party.

“There is no conflict between rights of women and the protection of women, and safety in particular places, and trans rights,” Ms Long-Bailey argued.

“And we need to stop having this debate within this party on that basis ... there doesn’t need to be a differentiation between the two.”

She called for changes to the 2010 Equality Act, which allows exclusions from women-only spaces, saying: “I want a right to self ID [identification] for trans people, it’s not an easy journey to go on.”

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr, Ms Long-Bailey was asked about female victims of domestic violence who have spoken of their “debilitating terror” and of the vital importance of a woman-only refuge.

She replied: “We can’t use that as an argument to discriminate against transpeople.”

Under the Equality Act 2010, trans people are not legally entitled to use single-sex spaces such as women-only lavatories, changing rooms, hospital wards and refuges.

Asked if she wanted to change that law, Ms Long Bailey told the BBC: “I do and I want a right to self-ID for trans people.”

Supporters claim that the rules on legally switching gender can be bureaucratic and upsetting. Opponents say self-identification would be open to exploitation.