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Women’s rights: declaration launched

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Three hundred Labour Party activists and supporters, among them three MSPs and 24 Labour councillors, have launched a declaration on women’s sex-based rights — and are calling for more people to sign up.

The declaration, which has been issued in the form of a petition, is in response to moves which many fear threaten to erode and water down rights that women have campaigned long and hard to achieve.

Concerns about this arose after Labour made commitments in its 2017 general election manifesto to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).

Many people believe the proposals would have a detrimental effect on women’s sex-based rights — particularly the right to single-sex facilities such as hospital wards, toilets and changing rooms and services for survivors of domestic violence and rape

The signatories are Labour Party supporters, members, activists, trade unionists and include nationally and locally elected representatives and officers and are signing this declaration in a personal capacity:

1 – Women and girls are subject to discrimination and oppression on the basis of their sex.

2 – Women have the right to freedom of belief, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly (Articles 18, 19 and 20 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights).

3 – Women have the right to discuss policies which affect them, without being abused, harassed or intimidated.

4 – Women have the right to maintain their sex-based protections, as set out in the Equality Act 2010. These include female-only spaces such as changing rooms, hospital wards, sanitary and sleeping accommodation, refuges, hostels and prisons.

5 – Women have the right to participate in single-sex sports, to ensure fairness and safety at all levels of competition.

6 – Women have the right to organise themselves, as a sex, across a range of cultural, leisure, educational and political activities.

7 – We condemn all attempts to undermine or limit the rights of women to self-organise and call on the Labour Party and the trades union movement to actively support these essential freedoms.

Paula Boulton, a spokeswoman for the team behind the declaration, said: “All proposals should be audited for their effect on women and girls — but this one [the reform of the Gender Recognition Act] hasn’t been.

“In fact, there has been very little open discussion in any of the political parties or trade unions.

“Few conversations have been held at branch and constituency level. Where they have, such as in Tottenham and Totnes CLPs, members have voted to support women’s sex-based rights.

“We are passionate Labour supporters, including MSPs, councillors, constituency and branch chairs, women’s officers and secretaries and many of us are activists working flat out for a Labour victory in the December general election to end the cruel policies of this Tory government which are causing so much pain and hardship,” she added.

“However, this issue requires an evidence-based approach and wide discussion before any specific proposals for GRA reform are made.

“Concerns have also been raised about accusations of bigotry and hate crime directed at those trying to respectfully raise the issue and defend women’s sex-based rights.”

To sign the declaration, click here.

To contact them, email labourwomensdeclaration@gmail.com or follow them on Twitter: @labwomendec and #labourwomensdeclaration #sexbasedrightsmatter

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