Labour offer to meet JK Rowling to give ‘assurances’ on women’s rights

The Harry Potter writer claimed at the weekend that she and others campaigning for biological women’s rights had been ‘abandoned’ by Labour.

Labour’s Rachel Reeves said the party would meet Harry Potter author JK Rowling to provide her with “assurances” over the protection of women-only spaces.

The shadow chancellor made the offer after Rowling said at the weekend that Labour had “abandoned” her and others campaigning for women’s rights.

The author, a former member of the Labour Party who has made donations to them in the past, said she would “struggle to support them” in next week’s General Election.

Ms Rowling has become known as a fierce advocate for the rights of biological women after speaking out against Scottish Government proposals to introduce self identification for transgender people.

JK Rowling claimed she and others who have campaigned for biological women’s rights had been ‘abandoned’ by Labour (Yui Mok/PA)

While gender recognition reforms were passed by Holyrood, the legislation was never implemented after being blocked by the UK Government.

Now reports suggest a Labour government could make  make it easier for people to legally transition by removing the need for them to prove they have lived as their preferred gender for two years.

The Times newspaper reported this will be replaced with a two-year “reflection period”, with the party also set to drop the number of doctors needed to approve a person’s gender recognition certificate – which recognises them in their preferred gender – from two to one.

Ms Reeves, however, insisted protection for single sex spaces for women would “absolutely stay”.

Speaking as she campaigned in Scotland, Ms Reeves said: “We’re not going to be changing anything around biological sex. So the Equality Act stands and the protection of single sex spaces, based on biological sex will absolutely stay.

“Labour introduced the Equality Act it is very important  to us and that protection for single sex spaces.”

Regarding Rowling’s comments, the shadow chancellor added: “We’re really happy to talk to JK Rowling to give her assurances about that.”

Ms Reeves insisted: “For me those protections whether it is about prisons, refuges, changing spaces, that is really important to me, it is really important to the Labour Party that those single sex spaces based on biological sex are protected.

“And nothing in our plans goes contrary to that, nothing at all.”

However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has insisted Labour’s proposals could create “loopholes that would be exploited by bad faith actors”.

Speaking to journalists in Edinburgh, he said: “What I’ve seen from the Labour Party is they’re going to undo all the progress that we’ve made on this issue, undermine the protections that we’ve put in place for women’s rights and their safety and security.

His comments came as he insisted Labour had never “properly cared or understood this issue”, while Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said the reaction from Rowling showed “how out of touch Labour are with this issue”.

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