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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle sorry for tone in gender debate

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A Labour MP has apologised for the tone of his speech during a heated debate on Scotland’s gender bill.

In the Commons on Tuesday, Lloyd Russell-Moyle accused Tory Miriam Cates of making “transphobic” comments.

He said he had written to Ms Cates to acknowledge the tone of his remarks was “a mistake”.

Mr Russell-Moyle added that he had failed to control his “passion” in “an emotional debate”, but insisted “I stand by the words that I said”.

In Tuesday’s debate Ms Cates had raised concerns about Scotland’s Gender Recognition Bill, which is designed to make it easier for people to change their legally recognised sex.

She said the proposed changes would make it “vastly easier for a predator to get access to children, to change their sex, to change their gender, with an eye to exploiting loopholes of accessing children and women in particular”.

In response, Mr Russell-Moyle, who was the next speaker, told the Commons: “Goodness me, that speech was probably one of the worst transphobic, dog-whistle speeches that I have heard in an awful long time.

“The idea of linking trans people with predators, frankly, is disgusting and you should be ashamed.”

The Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown was subsequently told to “calm down” and “moderate his language” by the Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton.

  • What are the plans for gender reforms in Scotland?
  • Scotland gender bill: What are the sticking points?

In the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Russell-Moyle apologised to the deputy speaker, saying: “I should have expressed my deep disagreement on what I believe is an abhorrent view in a more appropriate way.”

The confrontation came during an often fraught debate on the government’s move to block the Scottish gender bill.

Labour MP Rosie Duffield said she was “shouted down” by her male party colleagues, as well as SNP MPs, when she raised concerns about the impact of the bill on single-sex spaces.

“Absolute rubbish,” Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw could be heard saying from a seated position as she spoke.

“The protection of single sex spaces for the very most vulnerable women are at stake, so why on earth are Labour colleagues ok with this?” Ms Duffield said on Twitter after the debate.

The Gender Recognition Bill, passed by 86 votes to 39 in the Scottish Parliament last month, is intended to streamline the process in Scotland for changing someone’s legally recognised sex.

The bill would lower the age that people can apply for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) – a document confirming a change of someone’s legal sex – from 18 to 16.

It would also remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, with applicants only needing to have lived as their acquired gender for three months rather than two years – or six months if they are aged 16 or 17.

Trans campaigners welcomed the bill, however critics of the plans are worried that allowing anyone to self-identify as a woman could impact on women’s rights and access to single-sex spaces like refuges and changing rooms.

The UK government has moved to block the legislation, saying the changes could impact on equality laws that apply across Great Britain.

But the Scottish government has vowed to defend the bill in the courts and is likely to seek a judicial review.

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