Lesbian Labour respond to the WHO

We have responded to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s consultation with our thoughts on their guidance and policy.

A petition which raises similar objections to their policy can be found here: https://who-decides.org – you can add your name too.

Our response follows:

To whom it may concern,
We are Lesbian labour. Our group is based in the UK and is formed of Lesbians in the wider Labour and Trade Union movement plus members and supporters of the Labour Party. Together we fight to assert our rights and make our views heard in the face of increasing cross-political sexism and homophobia. We recognise our sexual orientation as same-sex attraction, as opposed to same-gender attraction. As Lesbians we understand that in addition to homophobia we experience misogyny based on our material female sex.

Whilst it is understandable that the WHO have convened a panel of trans and gender diverse people when seeking to develop guidelines which will affect them, this approach has led to complications in other spheres. Rather than wait until problems arise, we would argue that it is your public sector duty to carry out impact assessments on Lesbians and women in general. The most sensible way to do this would be to include these voices amongst the proposed members of the GDG.

We are not alone in our doubts about the proposed panel. Please note the growing number of signatories to this petition: https://who-decides.org/

Lesbian Labour have noticed that in the proposed GDG there is an absence of experts to advocate for the rights of Lesbians as exclusively same-sex attracted women. This is a massive oversight, as each of the five areas to be discussed affects Lesbians in the following ways:

Any proposal that focuses on ‘gender affirmation’ is likely to disproportionately harm Lesbians. Gender is a socially constructed set of norms used to oppress the female sex. ‘Gender-affirmation’ is male-centred and inherently sexist, as it reifies the roles and stereotypes used to oppress us.

As gender-nonconforming women existing in a sexist and homophobic society, Lesbians are at heightened risk of social pressure to transition. We believe that the promotion of medical procedures and hormones as forms of harmless ‘gender-affirming care’ may negatively affect the Lesbian community’s health and lead to our gender non-conformity being pathologized.

Healthcare guidelines that centre around gender identity rather than material sex are likely to disregard Lesbians’ boundaries around bodily autonomy. The overwhelming majority of perpetrators of violence against Lesbians are of the male sex. Healthcare policies that focus on gender-inclusivity necessarily rely on obscuring sex as a meaningful variable for consideration. This is problematic, since we believe that all women should have the right to request healthcare from a provider of the same sex.

The final point, legal recognition of self-determined gender identity, is detrimental to the rights of all women. It is fundamentally harmful to Lesbians. Since we experience the intersection between homophobia and sexism, it’s crucial that we have the right to enforce our sexual boundaries in a society that constantly pushes against them. Self-determination of gender identity has the potential to make Lesbians an undefinable group in law. This would in effect remove the legal protection we have recourse to under the UK 2010 Equality Act. Beyond this, Lesbians around the globe regardless of age, class, race, religion, culture, or difference in ability must all have the freedom to collectively reject all males as sexual partners without fear of social or legal punishment.

We urge the WHO to reconsider their proposed plans for the GDG and include experts who will provide evidence to support the needs of Lesbians. The departments of GRE-DEI have a duty to take into account not only the perceived benefits of their proposals, but also their potential grave harms to an already oppressed group.

Yours sincerely,
Paula Boulton for Lesbian Labour

Lesbians left out in the cold at conference

Lesbian Labour were in Liverpool this week handing out leaflets and speaking to delegates at the annual Labour Party Conference. Our concerns include the loss of single sex spaces and provision in public life, which particularly affects us same-sex attracted women.

Unfortunately we were literally and metaphorically left out in the cold given the Labour Party’s refusal to tolerate diversity of opinion over same-sex attraction and single sex services, after refusing stall applications from same-sex champions The LGB Alliance, the feminst charity Filia, as well as the Labour Women’s Declaration. This of course only made us more determined to get our message out there, and with our pop up stall we did!

Hannah and Paula with our pop up stall

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Not So Safe to be Me…

Thoughts on the cancelled alphabet soup conference, the “enlightened” response from the C of E, and the government’s cautionary approach to banning conversion therapy for gender identity.

A global conference which focused on banning such practices (see article) everywhere would have been a useful step.

Instead… histrionics. Footstomping. “If you don’t do what we want we won’t play”. Stonewall and other well- funded groups financially incentivising rainbow washing and virtue-signalling whilst denying same-sex attraction, should be ashamed of themselves.

Meanwhile, lesbians get schooled into how to be a real woman by transsexuals and drag queens. (see link below)

Now the C of E seems happy to accept trans folk. Lovely. Except it is a thin veneer over their homophobia.

“Better a trans person than a gay one.” Just like in Iran where the state pays to transition gay people.

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CALL TO ACTION – Support LGBT refugees in the Kakuma Refugee camp, Kenya

We ask our supporters and members to petition the UNHCR to release LGB+T refugees in Kenya at risk of being killed, by allowing them to leave the camp where they are being violently attacked. They lack basic shelter, food and facilities and our lesbian sisters in particular are at risk of sexual abuse. More information about their plight can be found here and more ways to support the Kakuma refugees can be found here

Simply copy and paste the text below into a blank email and send to the following email addresses. Please ACT NOW and let the UN refugee agency know that more must be done to help.

Kenya
englbrec@unhcr.org
alish@unhcr.org
kenna@unhcr.org
Kakuma
UNHCR Protection office in Kakuma:
KENKA@unhcr.org
kenkaprt@unhcr.org
Geneva

swibe@unhcr.org
cansizog@unhcr.org
CC: Tayyar Sukru Cansizoglu (Head of Sub Office Kakuma)

Email text:

Dear UNHCR,
We demand that you IMMEDIATELY ensure that movement passes are issued for all LGBT refugees to leave Kakuma Camp.
We demand that you give your protection for all LGBT refugees to transit safely from Kakuma Camp to Nairobi and to be protected for the duration of their time in Kenya.
According to The Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the ‘essential function of UNHCR is to provide international protection to refugees and to seek durable solutions to their problems by facilitating either their voluntary repatriation or their integration into new national communities in safety and with dignity’
FiLiA believes that the residents of Block 13 in Kakuma camp are not being protected or having due regard to their safety or dignity.
LGBT Refugees in Kakuma Camp are facing violent attacks on a daily basis and in 6 years UNHCR has proven that protecting them in the camp is not possible.
UNHCR operates the camp at Kakuma and the neighbouring Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement – https://www.unhcr.org/ke/kakuma-refugee-camp
UNHCR’s own Guideline No. 9, which deals with claims based on sexual orientation and / or gender identity, recognises that non-state actors may be agents of persecution where the state is unwilling or unable to protect them. The residents in Block 13 are experiencing harm capable of amounting to persecution and have no recourse to protection from the state or apparently from UNHCR. https://www.unhcr.org/…/unhcr-guidelines-international…
UNHCR’s Guideline on Gender-Related Persecution, which deals with sex and gender in refugee claims, acknowledges that gender-based violence encompasses persecution on the basis of sexual orientation, and that sexual violence is capable of amounting to persecution. Women in Block 13 are at risk due to both their sex and their sexual orientation.
Article 5 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights confirms that nobody shall be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.
Article 7 of the same – all are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection against discrimination.
Article 14 – everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution.
The conditions in Kakuma for those who are resident in Block 13 fail on these counts. Having sought asylum from persecution in their countries of origin, they are exposed to continued persecution and to inhuman and degrading treatment and discrimination due to their sexual orientation. This undermines the purpose of the Refugee Convention and compounds the suffering of the refugees in Block 13.
Please do your job and protect these Refugees.
Yours sincerely,

Statement in response to the EHRC intervention

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s response to the UK Government’s
Consultation on conversion therapy and its letter to the Scottish Government about
reform of the Gender Recognition Act are a breath of fresh air.

The Commission has called for careful and respectful discussion of potential changes to
the law and asked all Governments to take the time needed to ensure that definitions are
clear, and that the policy is evidence-based.

The EHRC’s mandate is to challenge discrimination, and to protect and promote
everyone’s human rights. LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) and women’s grassroots
organisations have for the last few years been raising alarm at policies, advocated by
gender identity activists, which only recognise the rights of one group.

Protecting human rights often means balancing the interests of people with different
protected characteristics. Legislators and regulators must listen to the views of all and
not favour a particular lobby or allow one group’s interests to destroy the rights of others.
As the EHRC have stated, the established legal concept of sex is a critical underpinning
to all our rights; including those of LGB people, women and people who identify as
transgender.

The EHRC has clearly listened to our voices. For this we thank the Commission. For our
part we will continue to lobby all Governments to focus on what any good law requires –
open debate, broad consultation, human rights impact assessments, clear language and
proper regard for evidence.

Signed,