Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy has vowed to redouble her support for trans rights after being targeted by a barrage of “hate and anger”.
She said she will not stop regardless of attempts to “shout me down” when she was repeatedly heckled at an LGBTQ hustings in Manchester on Thursday evening.
The Wigan MP said she and fellow contender Rebecca Long-Bailey backed pledges from the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights that call for the expulsion of transphobic members from the party.
he amount of hate and anger that’s been directed my way in the last week, it’s given me a very, very small taste of what people in the trans community have to face on a daily basis
The commitment also describes organisations including Woman’s Place UK, a group that calls for biological sex to be acknowledged as part of maintaining women’s rights, as a “trans-exclusionist hate group”.
There is anger over the commitment from some, with this being on display at the event organised by PinkNews when a small but vocal minority in the audience repeatedly shouted at the candidates.
Ms Nandy said: “I’ve had a bit of a taste of this over the past week. I signed a pledge along with Becky about standing up for trans rights because I believe trans men are men and trans women are women and we should say that loud and clear as a party.
“And the amount of hate and anger that’s been directed my way in the last week, it’s given me a very, very small taste of what people in the trans community have to face on a daily basis.
“So I will redouble my efforts to stand up for trans rights.”
She said it is not “beyond our wits” to protect safe spaces for women and to take into account “very real concerns about safety” while also standing up for “one of the most marginalised groups in the country”.
Shouted at for a second time, Ms Nandy was applauded when she said: “I signed the pledge precisely for this reason because we have got to be better than this as a level of debate in this party.
“I will not stop no matter who tries to shout me down.”
One person in the audience accused the candidates of not knowing “what the definition of woman is” and said that “women’s voices are being shut down” during the debate.
The repeated shouting at times disrupted the moderator Benjamin Cohen, the chief executive of PinkNews, who was widely applauded when he told one heckler to allow the contenders’ voices to be heard.
Sir Keir Starmer, who also took part in the debate, has not said whether he backs the 12 pledges but has called for transgender rights to be seen as human rights.
Earlier in the day former Labour prime minister Tony Blair said he would not sign up to the pledges.
“If you’re going to start trying to advocate things in a finger-jabbing sectarian way, saying ‘If you don’t sign up to what I’m saying then I’m going to disrupt your meetings and shout at you’, you’re not going to win that battle,” he added.
“You’re just going to put a whole lot of people off.”
Mr Blair said if Labour chose transgender rights as its “big thing” then it would lose “a kind of culture war” with those on the right of the politician spectrum, who were likely to adopt immigration as its main issue.