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Point of Order

Volume 746: debated on Monday 4 March 2024

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I extend my thanks to your office and to the Clerks for preparing for this point of order.

On Friday 1 March, during the debate on the Conversion Practices (Prohibition) Bill, the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns) spoke of the need for LGBT Members and staff to feel safe coming to work in this place. In response, I asked her:

“In fact, people in the LGB community are often referred to as “bigots”, “transphobes” and other slurs just because we have concerns about legislation such as this and want to make sure that young LGB people are protected —and trans people. Does the hon. Lady agree that that rule must apply to all sides of any debate, not just to the side that she favours?”The hon. Member responded:

“The hon. Gentleman is entirely right, but there was one letter missing in his LGB: the letter T. We do not divide the LGBT community in this place. Members can say that they have concerns about what we are doing, but by removing the T, the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that transgender people do not exist. He is suggesting that they are less than other LGB people, and I will not stand for that, because it was trans people who stood with gay people at Stonewall; it was trans people who fought alongside them for LGB rights. I will happily discuss the intricacies of legislation with the hon. Gentleman, but when he chooses to eradicate, that is wrong.”

Later in the debate she made the following comment about the UK’s only gay rights charity:

“that includes the LGB Alliance, who have also removed the T”. —[Official Report, 1 March 2024; Vol. 746, c. 556.]

That raises the following serious concerns. Despite specifically mentioning the safety of trans people immediately prior to asking my question, the Member launched into what felt like a targeted attack on my character. Furthermore, it felt like that was aggravated by my protected characteristics of same-sex attraction and gender critical beliefs. In addition, the Member, a heterosexual woman, felt it appropriate to lecture me, a homosexual male, on the boundaries under which she believes I should be permitted to exercise my rights and protections. Specifically, she demanded that this should centre the needs of the completely separate protected characteristic of gender reassignment—commonly known as force-teaming. The Member then gave an inaccurate account of the Stonewall riots, which has been corrected repeatedly by eyewitness testimony.

As a direct consequence, various news outlets have wrongly accused me of “dropping the T” and have ignored the context of a straight woman lecturing a gay man about what rights he is permitted to use. Given the sensitivity of these matters, that is deeply concerning. I have had five years of abuse, including murderous threats, mainly from heterosexuals who claim to be allies—but they are allies of queer theory, not lesbians, gay men, bisexuals or transsexual people. That outburst felt deliberate and targeted. I consider these behaviours emblematic of the modern-day homophobia that has been insinuated into our culture by organisations such as Stonewall and Mermaids. In response to the clip on social media—

Mr Speaker, this is the text that was agreed with the Clerks.

In response to the video clip on social media, prominent transexual campaigner Dr Debbie Hayton said:

“We trans people value the right to organise separately from the LGB as trans people. My LGB friends need and deserve the same right to organise separately from us. We can still organise together when it serves both groups. Nobody is ‘lesser’”.

A statement issued by the Gay Men’s Network noted that the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton’s comments were

“not characteristic of an otherwise civilised debate. We urge her to reflect on these comments and consider apologising.”

I agree. At the very least the Member should apologise—not just to me but to others who may feel threatened by her remarks. Any further consideration will be contingent on that.

After the debate, two Members—the Members for Jarrow (Kate Osborne) and for Nottingham East (Nadia Whittome)—both gave inaccurate accounts of the outcome of the day’s debate, laying blame for its failure at the doors of opponents. The truth is that the Bill failed to garner sufficient support in the closure motion proposed by the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle). Again, in this sensitive policy area, that shows a lack of concern for the safety of all Members, and risks whipping up targeted harassment. These posts should be removed and the Members should apologise. Thank you.

I am very disappointed that the Clerks agreed to such a long text. This is an important issue and the hon. Member is quite right to raise his concern, but I am concerned about the length of time it has taken. I therefore hope that I will be speaking with the Clerks.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for his point of order and for giving notice of it. I hope he notified hon. Members that he intended to refer to them in the Chamber. Hon. Members are responsible for the content of their own speeches, provided that they remain within the House’s rules of order. I understand the strength of the hon. Member’s feelings, but the Chair heard nothing disorderly in the remarks made by the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns) on Friday. He is correct in his observation that the Conversion Practices (Prohibition) Bill did not make further progress because fewer than 100 Members voted for closure. It is also true that the House continued to debate the Bill until the moment of interruption, which is unusual, although Members are entirely within their rights to do so. I thank the hon. Member again for giving me notice.