I welcome the report into antisemitism in the Labour party. Its recommendations should apply to transphobia as well. The transphobe MSP Jenny Marra and MP Rosie Duffield have faced no sanction for their transphobia. The transphobic document the “Labour Women’s Declaration” has received no condemnation from the Labour leadership. Transphobia is rife in the Labour Party.
I have taken paragraphs from the report, and substituted “transphobia” for “antisemitism”, “trans people” for “Jewish people”. I do this because I find transphobia in the Labour party quite as offensive as antisemitism.
The Labour Party must acknowledge the impact that years of failing to tackle transphobia has had on trans people. Rebuilding trust and confidence with its members, the Trans community and the wider public will be crucial for the future. A transparent and independent transphobia complaints process, which ensures that all cases of alleged discrimination, harassment or victimisation are investigated promptly, rigorously and without political interference, must sit at the heart of this. (p3)
Politicians on all sides have a responsibility to set standards for our public life and to lead the way in challenging HoBiT in all its forms. What politicians say and do matters. Their words and actions send a message about what is acceptable and what is not. (p4)
The Party has shown an ability to act decisively when it wants to, through the introduction of a bespoke process to deal with sexual harassment complaints… it is hard not to conclude that transphobia within the Labour Party could have been tackled more effectively if the leadership had chosen to do so. (p6)
An effective and transparent complaints process is critical to building trust with members and the general public, yet the Labour Party’s response to transphobia complaints has been inconsistent, poor, and lacking in transparency. (p9)
no clear, publicly accessible guidance for members on how transphobic conduct is sanctioned
no clear guidance for decision-makers on how to decide on the appropriate sanction
a continuing failure to provide adequate reasons for sanctions, and
poor record-keeping, implementation and monitoring of sanctions. (p10)
There was a failure to deliver adequate training to individuals responsible for handling transphobia complaints. The approach to training for antisemitism is in stark contrast to the training provided for those handling sexual harassment complaints, for whom the Labour Party has implemented a comprehensive training scheme. (p11)
We expect the Labour Party to have practical training in place within six months of publication of this report. We also found that the resourcing of the complaints process was inadequate. (p11)
Why can’t the EHRC recommend this for all discrimination complaints?
The Party should… Engage with Jewish stakeholders to develop and embed clear, accessible and robust principles and practices to tackle transphobia and to instil confidence for the future. (p12)
[and] commission an independent process to handle and determine transphobia complaints. (p13)
[and] Publish a comprehensive policy and procedure, setting out how transphobia complaints will be handled and how decisions on them will be made. This should include published criteria on what conduct will be subject to investigation and suspension. (p13)
[and] make sure the complaint handling process is resourced properly so that it can deal with transphobia complaints effectively and without delay. (p14)
The EHRC says Jewish stakeholders should be consulted on training programmes. I want trans members consulted on transphobia and training for all with positions of responsibility within the Party.
In the introduction to the report, the EHRC says,
Under the Equality Act 2010, the Labour Party must not discriminate against, harass or victimise its members, associates, guests, or those wanting to become members, on the basis of a number of protected characteristics… Leaders and representatives of political parties should uphold and defend their right to speak freely, but they also have a responsibility to conduct debate responsibly, and to lead others in doing so. They should create an environment where discrimination, harassment and victimisation is not tolerated, so that all party members feel valued and respected.
There is no excuse for the Labour Party not responding to transphobia as it has committed to responding to antisemitism.