Scottish Labour accused of “silencing” gender critical women members

Scottish Labour has been accused of silencing its female members after their call for the party leadership to recognise them as “adult human females” was rejected by officials.

Scottish Labour has been accused of silencing its female members after their call for the party leadership to recognise them as “adult human females” was rejected by officials, reports the Telegraph.

The party’s women’s conference in December passed a motion, with a significant majority, urging “Scottish Labour to acknowledge the principle of women’s sex-based rights”.

“We recommend that Scottish Labour leadership follow Keir Starmer’s lead and openly recognise women as adult human females,” the motion continued.

“Women and girls are at certain material disadvantages compared to men, in particular in relation to sexual violence. As a result, civilised societies, including the UK with the Equality Act 2010, have single sex spaces for women in a state of physical or emotional vulnerability including, but not exclusive to, toilets, changing rooms, healthcare facilities, prisons, refuges, most sports, and trauma counselling.

“Women’s and girls’ sexuality and fertility are vulnerable to exploitation including pornography, prostitution, commercialised egg donation and commercialised surrogacy.”

The motion added: “When Holyrood Parliament and its committees discuss regulation and legislation that impacts on women, women’s voices as a sex class must be heard openly, with respect and without intimidation.

“With a UK election approaching and Holyrood elections scheduled for 2026 we recommend that Scottish Labour acknowledge women’s existence as a sex and encourage positive debate within the Labour Party.”

Disquiet about the proposal within the party’s ranks was signalled last week when an unnamed party described it to the Daily Record as “trans exclusionary”. Now, at the 11th hour, the text has been replaced with a drastically watered-down version that contains only 78 words of the original 171-word motion, and omits the crucial reference to women as “adult human females”.

Trans activists and their parliamentary allies allege that this definition is ‘transphobic’ and ‘trans-exclusionary’ because it implies that ‘womanhood’ reflects biological sex, not gender or gender identity.

The replacement motion, which was debated last Saturday at the Party’s three-day conference in Glasgow, refers to “the principle of women’s sex-based rights” but does not explicitly call for the party to change its policy on trans issues.

Elaine Smith, the former Labour MSP, said the amended version “does not do justice” to the views women members had expressed.

Ann Henderson, a spokeswoman for the Labour Women’s Declaration, said: “The idea of allowing the women’s conference to put forward motions was that it would be for women to democratically decide what their priorities were.

“Women rightly expected that the full motion would come to this conference. That’s not what has happened, which is not a good look,” she added.

The row comes amid continuing tensions in the party over its decision to support Nicola Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Act 2022, which made a person’s legal sex a matter of subjective choice, and meant that women-only hospital wards, shelters and prisons would be obliged by law to admit males over the age of 16 who have an easily obtainable gender-recognition certificate (‘self-ID’).

The law was later blocked by the UK government, but according to the Christian Institute, a majority of Scottish Labour MSPs privately opposed the bill, and remain unhappy that they were whipped into silence. When the Scottish Parliament passed the bill in December 2022, 86 votes to 39, 18 Scottish Labour MSPs voted in favour, with only two against.

Scottish Labour’s decision to water-down the Women’s Committee motion isn’t the first time it has been accused of silencing women members.

Last summer, frontbench MSP Pauline McNeill was forced to pull out of co-hosting an event titled ‘The Meaning of Sex Under the Equality Act 2010’ at Holyrood, following a formal complaint.

The event was to have featured prominent gender critical activist Maya Forstater, as well as barrister Naomi Cunningham, legal academic Dr Michael Foran, and Dr Helen Joyce, the author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.

Ms McNeill, who is Scottish Labour’s justice spokesperson, was an outspoken critic of the Gender Recognition Act and was due to co-host the event with Ash Regan, the SNP MSP who resigned from the Scottish Government over her opposition to the legislation.

However, the formal complaint received by Scottish Labour claimed the timing of the event and the invitation to attend it, which was sent to all MSPs on the first day of Pride Month, “appears to be a deliberate attack on trans people and their allies”.

No sooner had Ms McNeill dropped out of the event, than a Scottish Labour source was on hand to brief the media that it was “the right decision” for her to step away from the event, although “[she] should never have organised it in the first place, and I hope she apologises publicly for it”.