Our response to recent policy shifts

Now Labour policy is committed to retaining a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria as the requirement for obtaining a GRC, where does the party stand on its own policy internally of self id?? There needs now to be a streamlining of the approach to ensure we all live within the law and are no longer dictated to by Stonewall law.

It has been like watching paint dry inching the policy towards this position, 5 years solid slog. But we have arrived at a place which promised to protect safe spaces for women. We weren’t actually asking for much. Just an impact assessment. That’s all. Well made policy which takes everyone into consideration.

Where does this leave us as Lesbians? Well, unfortunately for us there is still a long way to go. As same-sex attracted women in a world and party that believe in the forced teaming of sexual orientation with gender identity we are still invisible.

The APPG on LGBT issues believes it speaks for the community, as does LGBT Labour our affiliated organisation. But none of them include us or our gay brothers.
The party is still on the Stonewall diversity index and receiving training from groups who go along with the redefinition of homoSEXuality to be based on gender identity, not biology.

So do stick around and keep arguing for the end to “no debate”, for the inclusion of same-sex attracted people on all gay panels and organisations, and for the protection of SEXual Orientation as a discrete protected characteristic.

Meanwhile let me remind you that our very existence and culture is based on the autonomous right to assemble and associate with others of our kind. That is not about safety, privacy or dignity. It is about precisely what being women-loving women means.

So does this move to protect safe spaces for women include lesbian spaces?

There is still work to be done.

But for today let’s celebrate.

This post refers to Anneliese Dodds’ recent article in the Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jul/24/labour-will-lead-on-reform-of-transgender-rights-and-we-wont-take-lectures-from-the-divisive-tories

Write to your MP in support of Lesbians, using our template letter!

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On the 12th of June, Parliament will hold a debate in response to a petition signed by over 100,000 people, requesting a clarification to the Equality Act 2010 protected characteristic of Sex. Organised by Sex-Matters.org, the petition seeks clarification that Sex in law refers to biological sex and does not include the legal fiction conferred by a gender recognition certificate. This is important for women but especially so for Lesbians, since our same-sex attraction (and its protection thereof) is contingent on sex in law meaning biological sex.

We are concerned that this message will be forgotten in the debate since few are aware that Stonewall, and other large organisations that supposedly speak for Lesbians, now define sexual orientation as same-gender orientation!

Please copy our template letter text below to write to your MP ahead of the debate to bring this to their attention. Do feel free to add your own personal touches. You can find out who your MP is and how to contact them by clicking here

Template letter:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write to you as your constituent to draw your attention to an upcoming debate in Westminster Hall on the 12th of June at 4.30 pm, scheduled as a result of a petition, to clarify the definition of the protected characteristic of sex as it appears in the Equality Act 2010. The petition, which was organised by the organisation Sex Matters, attracted more than 100,000 signatories. A counter petition which also reached the debate threshold will be debated at the same time, indicating how many people are concerned about this issue.

The Equality Act defines nine protected characteristics which are all given equal weighting in terms of protection in the law (disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, maternity and pregnancy, religion or belief, race, gender reassignment and marriage or civil partnership).

The importance of sex as a protected characteristic, particularly to women and girls, cannot be overstated. However there is currently a great deal of confusion whether ‘sex’ in law means biological sex solely, or including sex as modified by a Gender Recognition Certificate – which describes the status of transgender people who hold a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). Clarification will allow for the provision of clear and lawful single-sex services, in scenarios in which sex is the more relevant classifier and not gender. Examples of services or provisions in which sex is a more appropriate classifier than gender is in medical settings or sport. Transgender people are of course protected under the category of gender reassignment, as they rightly should be from any form of discrimination.

The protected characteristic of sexual orientation however is also contingent on the definition of sex as meaning biological, and it is for this reason that I write to you. Lesbian, Gay men and bisexual people all experience same-sex attraction, that is, attraction based upon biological sex, not gender. Gender is not relevant to sexual attraction.

Stonewall has in recent years quietly modified their definition of homosexuality to centre around gender, and not sex. Since they also explicitly include “cross-dressers” under their definition of transgender, this means that many males now self-define as Lesbians. Under this climate, it is impossible for Lesbians to meet and gather openly without men wishing to join or simply disrupt our events.

It is therefore not necessarily automatic that the proposed clarification of sex will protect same-sex attracted people. Lesbians , in the words of Anne Lister ,“Love and only love the fairer sex”. It is unacceptable that they should be forced to include men – indeed it is outright homophobia. Lesbians’ sexual orientation is exclusive of males as it is based upon biological sex.

I therefore urge you as my elected representative at Westminster to attend the debate and consider speaking on behalf of same-sex attracted people –  to explicitly clarify the definition of sexual orientation in law to mean attraction to biological sex.

Yours Sincerely,

Your constituent

Lesbian Labour Speaks to Victor Madrigal-Borloz

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Standing up for Lesbians – our own Paula Boulton’s thoughts on her meeting with the United Nations Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

Last Thursday I was fortunate to be invited to meet with Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity whilst he was on a fact finding mission in the UK to inform his report.

I was in a 45- minute shared meeting with Dennis Kavanagh from Gay men’s Network, and Kate Harris from LGB Alliance. Originally we had been invited to meet alongside 4 other organisations: Sex Matters, Fair Play For Women, Safe Schools Alliance and Labour Women’s Declaration. We successfully argued for a separate meeting for those of us concerned with Sexual Orientation.

My intention was to represent the grassroots Lesbian voice of Lesbian Labour, Lesbian Strength and Lesbian Fightback.

I hoped to establish an open channel of communication with Mr Madrigal-Borloz and to agree to ongoing dialogue.

Like many others, I had noticed that his work so far seems to have focused almost entirely on gender identity and ignored the other half of his brief-sexual orientation.

Below are the notes I made at the meeting.

Meeting notes – International Maritime Museum 4th May.

Present: Paula Boulton (Lesbian Labour, Lesbian Strength, Lesbian Fightback) Kate Harris LGB Alliance, Dennis Kavanagh GMN, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, IE SOGI UN

The meeting was 25 minutes late starting because he had over run in the meeting with FPFW, Sex Matters, SSA and LWD. We insisted that we be given our full 45 mins.

He refused to share who he had met with. However, there is a photo gallery on twitter of many of those groups. Notable absences – us.

He acknowledged that we had complained that he was not doing his job but thought we should use the meeting time constructively to share views rather than focus on his shortcomings.

He chose not to watch the suggested 4-minute detransitioner’s video as he wanted to talk to us instead. Asked for it to be sent.

He tried to suggest a dynamic for the meeting. In the end it was a free flow.

This was the first time Paula had met him and she asked that this be the beginning of further contact as it was not possible to cover all the ground in one go. He agreed and asked for evidence to be collected and sent to him to inform his report.

He said he didn’t know about Hoyle in Tasmania and questioned whether this was within his remit and asked why she had needed a permit for a private party.

He also had not heard of Nancy Kelly’s comment’s about “Sexual racists” but assured us that he considered the notion of anyone being coerced into unwanted sex to be unacceptable.

He genuinely responded to the idea of Lesbians being expected to have sex with men as ridiculous but has not joined the dots. He believes TWAW. Appealing to him as a Gay man imagining women in gay male spaces fell on deaf ears as he considers TMAM.

He had not heard of the Cotton ceiling and seemed unaware of the threats and protests we as Lesbians have to put up with. Many examples given including policing at Lesbian Strength and violence at Pride.  The HER dating app fiasco also news to him.

Self-excluding from Lesbian activities which have become inclusive was invisible to him. The underground nature of Lesbian life and the resulting lack of role models for young lesbians was news to him.

He claimed to have met with lots of Lesbians and suggested that our view was minority since he hadn’t heard it. Was unmoved by examples of the no debate exclusion we face and that if we were not present then clearly there would be a one-sided view.

When challenged about why he hadn’t published submissions and his statement that some were hateful – he explained that he had to ensure anything he published passed the RABAT plan of action. He had received over 6000 pages of submissions and there was a long process of checking in place. When told that we expected any which stated our views to be considered hateful he asserted that he had never used those words about LGB Alliance at all. Nor has he suggested any of us are linked to right-wing funders etc.

When we explained that there was no representation of same-sex attracted homosexuals on panels and in organisations due to the exclusive nature of LGBT+ organisations he assured us that he wants to acknowledge the plurality of opinions. He is by nature INCLUSIVE and that means opinions too.

I mentioned Kakuma and the fact that lesbians there face discrimination along with the other block 13 inmates but also are in danger from men claiming to be Lesbians.

We discussed the chilling effect of Hate Crime legislation referencing Tonje Gjevjon and our recent Lesbian not Criminal tour.  Paula gave him a message from Rosa in Malta about Lesbians self- excluding for fear of fines if they correctly sex someone. He asked to request that Rosa contact him directly as he has met lots of Lesbians in Malta and all are happy.

He did not accept the premise of homosexual detransitioners – and felt that we were suggesting that trans people do not have agency to make their own choices

He was confused about UK Law and genuinely thought gender identity and gender reassignment were different words for the same thing. When we quoted that gender reassignment was a protected characteristic for those who have undergone or propose to undergo gender reassignment, he explained that this can be extrapolated to mean any trans person since that is their eventual aim.

He said that we were governed by international human rights law and that in the statute of Rome gender identity already exists.

We explained that it does not exist here in legal parlance at all.

He was unaware of Keira Bell, Sonia Appleby, the recommendations in the Cass review, or what David Bell has said. The idea that our “Gender medicine services” were being shut down as unfit was news to him. We said they were all major news stories and that UK was leading the way in protecting children and that we are proud to be called terf island. He says he doesn’t use that term. He also claimed to be unaware of the growing number of countries and US states rejecting Puberty blockers.

He said clearly “any dynamic that affects women’s bodily autonomy is my concern”

The redirection of EU funding to so called “Inclusive” LGBT+ groups was raised and the Lesbians Denied project mentioned. His remit does affect EU policy and Law.

He insisted that he was able to listen to opposing views and rejected our assertion that he couldn’t be considered an independent expert with such a fixed view. He disagreed and felt he was able to do his job and assess cases and would do so if the information came to him through the correct channels of communication.

We requested he stop using the term Lesbian women since this implies there can be Lesbian men – he agreed.

The meeting felt unresolved and ran over time. It was a frank and forthright exchange of opinions and information.

Requests for us to send evidence was reiterated at the close and that dialogue was to be ongoing.

Paula Boulton 04.05.23

“Wrong sort of Lesbian?”

What was clear is that he needs evidence of the situations we face as Lesbians as he was unaware of our plight. Hardly surprising given that we exist almost entirely underground and back in the closet again. He clearly thought that he had spoken to Lesbians -who are, after all part of the many LGBT groups he has met. But the idea of us being the “wrong sort of Lesbian” was news to him.

He assured me that he was an independent expert, despite his obvious belief in gender identity and dismissal of biological sex.

He said he would gladly receive evidence through the proper communication channels.

In the last week I have spoken to many Lesbian groups and organisations and many are sending him evidence as a result.

He, on the other hand, has spent the last week writing his

Country visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (24 April – 5 May 2023) End of mission statement

End of mission Statement

https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/issues/sexualorientation/statements/eom-statement-UK-IE-SOGI-2023-05-10.pdf

This has confirmed for me how much evidence we need to send him. The report is very thorough and shows clearly who he met with and thus the one-sided picture which emerged for him. He has done an excellent job of speaking to those in need of protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of gender identity – mentioned 35 times. The word trans features 84 times.

The other part of the mandate – sexial orientation is mentioned only 29 times, the word Lesbian only 9 times, and gay men only once.

We ask that he now listen to and meet with Lesbians to arrive at an understanding of the violence and discrimination we face.

Please send evidence to hrc-ie-sogi@un.org

Copy me in at lesbianlabour@gmail.com

Lesbian Not Criminal – the tour

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This month (12th – 19th) Lesbian Labour, in conjunction with the LGB Alliance hosted Norwegian Lesbian artist Tonje Gjevjon for several evening events across the UK. Tonje was facing a possible jail term in her home country for a facebook post stating Menn er menn uansett seksuelle fetisjer – Men are men regardless of their sexual fetishes”.

Tonje in a mg-shot style photo, holding a "Lesbian Not Criminal" sign

An excellent write up of the tour was written by Lily Maynard here. Below is our summary of the week.

The tour was a roaring success, both in raising awareness of the issues Lesbians can face when we assert our boundaries as women loving women (hence the name – Lesbian not criminal!), but also in getting women together for discussion, singing, music and dancing!

Several of our own members performed, chaired or spoke at the events, which were well attended by women – Lesbian, bi and straight – who wished to hear about Tonje’s siutation.

We kicked things off in Edinburgh. Chaired by Joanna Cherry KC, we heard from Tonje first then Rhona Hotchkiss, Nicole Jones and Paula Boulton for Lesbian Labour.

Tonje had unexpectedly heard from the Norwegian police that they were dropping the case against her as they had decided nothing punishable had taken place. What a way to start the tour. There was a lively Q and A and much joy at having defeated the GRR Bill in Scotland. We added an additional speech from Kate Harris before clearing the stage for the first performance.

Kicking off with Hungry Hearts we were treated to the spectacle of Kate Harris of LGB Alliance dancing away to the Vagina Anthem setting the tone for the rest of the week. The song may have been cancelled in Norway, but it was sung lustily in Edinburgh.

The one and only Elaine Miller had us in stitches regaling us with the full merkin moment story. She then dressed in her ceremonial vulva robs to present Tonje with a merkin of her own.

Next, an unofficial stop at Leeds’ Virago Women’s Workshop for an early art workshop followed by the tour’s most intimate  round table discussion about how to move things forward.

Cardiff saw women’s choir, Cwfen (Covan) welcoming women in and our own Bronwen Evans chairing a panel of Kate Harris, Dee McCullough, Paula and Tonje. Wales’ LGBTQ action plan and its disastrous consequences for Lesbians was discussed.

More singing and music followed including Calon Lan and the Vagina Anthem twice, which of course got Kate Harris up and dancing again. However, this time she was determined not to dance alone and got many other women up and dancing.

The tour officially ended in London, where around 100 women came to see the panel speak. Kate Barker chaired the panel and this time Tonje was followed by Aja, Jo Phoenix and Paula.

It was a shocking moment for Paula when she announced she was from Labour – there was a collective groan. Asking for a show of hands as to who was in Labour revealed half a dozen lonely women. Asking who had left labour resulted in nearly every hand in the room being raised. There were far too many hands raised when she also asked who had been investigated or expelled or suspended.

Music included the Lesbian Marching song, to which Julia Long led women marching around the room as they chanted and joined in at the appropriate moments.

Tonje, a lover of rap had chosen to finish the night with the acerbic, cutting lyrics of young lesbian rapper Trish who burst on to the stage with red hot anger and tore to shreds the nonsense that is self ID.

After more talking and a great deal of merriment, Tonje was off to Manchester for the final night of the tour where a meeting of around 30 women took place followed by a trip to the gay village.

A few hours later, early Sunday morning Tonje headed back to Norway greatly invigorated by her trip to Terf Island. So many connections made over the week. We need to do it more. And if saying a man can’t be a lesbian is “not punishable” then we all need to say it more!

 

Lesbian Not Criminal on tour

Tonje in a mg-shot style photo, holding a "Lesbian Not Criminal" sign

The Lesbian Not Criminal tour in conjunction with LGB Alliance gives a platform to Tonje Gjevjon who will speak about her experiences. Tonje faces a possible custodial sentence in Norway for ‘hateful speech’ for asserting that men cannot be lesbians.

Join us at this women-only event to hear Tonje’s story, and to listen to informed and impassioned speakers discussing the perils we are facing. It’s an opportunity to plan, make connections and share experiences. We’ll end the evening with drinks, conversation and live music from Tonje and Paula Boulton. Don’t miss this opportunity to amplify lesbian voices in opposition to Self-ID at an event created by lesbians, for lesbians. 

Tickets can be found via this link