Our members and supporters in the Labour Party will know that voting in the Scottish Labour leadership elections opened on 9th February 2021, and will close on 26th February 2021. It has emerged that both contenders, Monica Lennon and Anas Sarwar, have joined LGBT+ Labour Scotland’s Rainbow Network. Network members commit (among other things) to “Supporting the Scottish Labour Party’s LGBT+ manifesto pledges, including reform to the Gender Recognition Act”.
We agree that the leadership contenders should be held to the party’s manifesto pledges made little more than a year ago, for the December 2019 general election. We’re puzzled, though, that the signatories to the Rainbow Network appear to have forgotten that the Scottish Labour manifesto didn’t include Gender Recognition Act reform. What it actually said was:
“The Scottish Government is consulting over changes to the Gender Recognition Act and Scottish Labour will listen carefully to the submissions and debate as the legislation progresses.”
We fully support this manifesto pledge and hope that both leadership candidates will re-commit themselves to it. We know our supporters in Scottish Labour want a leader who listens carefully to consultation findings rather than pre-judging them, and participates constructively in debate.
We also trust that the leadership contenders will commit themselves to another 2019 manifesto pledge:
“Ensure that the single-sex-based exemptions contained in the Equality Act 2010 are understood and fully enforced in service provision.”
We understand that leadership hustings are taking place over the next fortnight. We urge Scottish Labour members among our supporters to attend these hustings, and ask one or more of the following questions of the candidates:
1) Do you remain committed to the 2019 manifesto pledge regarding the single-sex-based exemptions in the Equality Act?
2) Do you remain committed to the 2019 manifesto pledge on listening to the consultation submissions and debate on Gender Recognition Reform?
3) The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation of many women in terms of health, employment and domestic violence. We rely on robust data, such as that collected by the Women’s Budget Group, to understand these effects and design policy interventions to address them. Will you commit to collecting and analysing sex-disaggregated data, so that Scottish Labour can formulate and evaluate appropriate policy to improve women’s lives?
4) Will you support women’s right to organise ourselves, as a sex, across a range of cultural and political activities, and to discuss policies which affect us without being abused, harassed or intimidated?
If you’re not a Scottish Labour member but you’re considering voting Labour in the Holyrood elections later this year, we encourage you to contact the leadership contenders and let them know what will matter to you when you decide where to place your vote.