Politically expedient to do a volte-face


A year ago:

Emma Barnett: There’s one just to put here again to you, Anneliese, if I can, from Jill and I have to say a whole series of these messages came in at the same time. I would legislate for a clear definition of what a woman is. You’re in this position and Labour still, it seems to be the position that Labour would update the Gender Recognition Act to enable a process of self-identification. How does that fit with also trying to support the implementation of single sex exemptions? How do those two  things go together? Which I believe is Labour’s position.

Anneliese Dodds: Well, they go together because of a very proud Labour achievement ultimately, which was that Equality Act 2010. One of the last measures that we were determined to put into place as a Labour government and that Equality Act, as many people listening to this, I’m sure will be aware and they may well have used its provisions actually against discrimination. It protects on the basis of sex and it ensures that there can be change from the usual principle of, for example, the inclusion of trans people where that is proportionate means to a legitimate end. It’s spelled out very clearly within that act, and we’d uphold those provisions. So that’s how it goes together. You know, really we need to end up in a situation where we see equality across the board where we make sure that we have that future where everyone can have those  opportunities

Emma Barnett: And Labour’s definition of a woman?

Anneliese Dodds: Well, I have to say that there are different definitions legally around what a woman actually is. I mean, you look at the definition within the Equality Act, and I think it just says someone who is adult and female, I think, but then doesn’t see how you define either of those things. I mean, obviously, that’s then you’ve got the biological definition, legal definition…

Emma Barnett: With respect, I didn’t ask for that. What’s the Labour definition?

Anneliese Dodds: Oh, I think with respect, Emma, I think it does depend what the context is surely. I mean surely that is important here. You know, there are people who have decided that they have to make that transition. You know, I’ve spoken with many of them. It’s been a very difficult process for many of those people. And you know, understandably because they live as a woman, you know, they want to be defined as a woman. That’s what the gender recognition act…again a Labour…is brought into place.

It’s all context. Labour’s Equality Act protects women but who is a woman is all a matter of context. How can legislation protect women if who is a woman is up in the air?

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