Labour MP says creating debate about equality is a 'hostile act'

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·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Labour MP for Nottingham East Nadia Whittome attends Andrew Marr's BBC Political Sunday Morning Show at BBC Broadcast House on on January 19, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images)
Labour MP Nadia Whittome has said trans rights should not be up for debate. (Ollie Millington/Getty Images)

A Labour MP has defended comments about trans rights in which she said creating debate about equality is a “hostile act”.

Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome said trans rights should not be up for debate.

She said: “We must not fetishise ‘debate’ as though debate is itself an innocuous, neutral act.

“The very act of debate in these cases is an effective rollback of assumed equality and a foot in the door for doubt and hatred.”

Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan attacked the statement on Friday, asking on Twitter: “How can a democratically elected MP have such a dreadful view of debating? Even by woke standards this is absurd.”

Whittome – the youngest MP in the House of Commons having been elected at the age of 23 last year – retorted: “In the past there were ‘debates’ on allowing openly gay and bisexual people in the military.

“I clearly mention debate in this context: creating a debate about people’s fundamental rights or equal status is a hostile act.

“Don’t spin it to stoke a right-wing feeding frenzy.”

In an article for The Independent, Whittome had said people would be “appalled” about a debate on, for example, “whether women are innately less intelligent than men or whether disabled people should be paid the same level of wages as non-disabled people”.

She argued discussion about trans rights should be based on people’s “real-life experiences”, rather than “reduced to statistics, an academic subject or a series of hypothetical scenarios”.

Last year, police figures suggested transgender hate crimes had increased by 81%.

Earlier this week, Whittome criticised the government for not having published the results of the Gender Recognition Act consultation, which was launched in 2018, raising concerns of “potential rollback on trans rights”.

She accused women and equalities minister Liz Truss of “quibbling” over trans rights and “fanning the flames of populist hate towards an already marginalised group”.

Truss responded: “Let me be absolutely clear – we will not be rolling back the rights of transgender people.

“It is important that transgender people are able to live their lives as they wish without fear and we’ll be making sure that is the case.”

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