Labour suspends activist challenging gender self-identification policy

David Lewis stood for women’s officer role claiming that he was ‘a woman on Wednesdays’

Labour has suspended an activist who attempted to stand as women’s officer while claiming he identified as a woman “on Wednesdays”, as the party’s ruling body reaffirmed transgender women were eligible to stand on all-women shortlists.

Party sources said David Lewis, who was a candidate to be Basingstoke Labour party’s women’s officer, had been suspended pending an investigation.

Lewis said he had decided to stand for the role, which party rules say can only be held by a woman, in order to draw attention to Labour’s policy of self-definition, where a person is recognised as a woman if they define themselves as such.

“I self-identify as a woman on Wednesdays, between 6.50am when my alarm goes off and around midnight when I go to bed,” he told the Spectator. “My priority here is to inform the CLP, and maybe some other people, about what this policy means, about what happens when you say that someone’s gender depends only on what they say and nothing else.”

Before his suspension, Lewis said he had not expected to win selection as the party’s women’s officer. “I am hoping that my local party will be sensible,” he said.

A party spokeswoman said it was “committed to upholding the principle of affirmative action for women” but said obvious abuse of the process would not be tolerated.

“Anyone attempting to breach Labour party rules and subvert the intention of all-women shortlists, women’s officers or minimum quotas for women will be dealt with via our established safeguards, selection procedures and disciplinary measures,” the spokeswoman said.

In a meeting on Tuesday, the party’s ruling national executive committee affirmed a policy statement explicitly stating all-women shortlists and women’s officer roles are all open to self-identifying trans women, a long-held policy that had been disputed by some activists in recent months.

“Labour has a proud record of championing equality for women of all backgrounds, including BAME women, LGBT+ women, disabled women and working-class women,” the statement said. “The use of all-women shortlists, women’s officers and minimum quotas for women is a key aspect of this.”

The statement said there was a “diversity of views on what can be a complex and emotive issue for many members, but discussions within the Labour party should never take the form of abuse or intimidation of anyone”.

“Labour’s code of conduct is clear on acceptable behaviour by party members. This standard of behaviour will be enforced,” it said.

The party recently suspended a number of campaigners who vociferously opposed the policy of allowing trans women to be on all-women shortlists, including several who had crowdfunded a legal challenge to the policy.


Jessica Elgot Political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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