Labour shadow minister calls for protection of single-sex spaces

Jun 21, 2023

The erosion of women-only spaces by transgender ideology is “utterly devastating”, Labour’s Shadow Domestic Violence Minister Jess Phillips has said. Her comments will be seen as a challenge to party leader Sir Keir Starmer, who last year pledged to update” the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier to change legal sex.

In a parliamentary debate on potential Government reforms to the Equality Act, Phillips insisted that single-sex refuges in particular must be safeguarded, warning that “the status quo isn’t working”. She underlined the centrality of biological reality in defining a woman and said she has never met a trans person who denies it.

Anneliese Dodds, the party chairman, said that Labour “supports the protection of certain spaces that are for biological women, such as refuges for vulnerable women”. She claimed these are already provided for in existing legislation.

This is being seen as Labour clarifying its position on the issue after years of mixed messages. However, it remains unclear whether the party supports the EHRC’s advice to amend the Equality Act to specify that it protects “biological sex” rather than just “sex”. This would close the loophole that may allow men who change legal sex under the Gender Recognition Act to access women-only spaces.

Starmer said in April that “99.9 per cent” of women do not have a penis – implying that around one in a thousand do – and in 2020 said: “Trans rights are human rights and I support the right to self-identification.” Members of the Labour front bench have also given various definitions of a woman during the past year.

C4M welcomes the clarification from Labour that single-sex spaces should be protected and biology is fundamental. We urge it to go further and expressly support the updating of the Equality Act to make clear the protected characteristic is biological sex.

More than this, however, we urge all parties to recognise that biology is also central to marriage – that it is the uniting of male and female to form a new family that is at the heart of the real meaning of marriage. Losing sight of this by recognising same-sex unions as ‘marriage’ undermines marriage because it just makes it about companionship between two people, rather than the union of the sexes that is the foundation of a stable society throughout generations.