The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has tweeted out his support for a Labour MP who was labelled as transphobic for liking a tweet that stated “individuals with a cervix” should instead be referred to as “women”.
Labour MP Rosie Duffield has said she will not attend the upcoming Labour party conference over worries that she could face abuse over her views on the subject.
“I took the decision a few weeks ago not to go,” the Canterbury MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“I didn’t want to be the centre of attention. This is Keir Starmer’s first conference speech since the pandemic. I think it’s really important we focus on that and the policies that emerge from conference. I really did not want to be the news story.”
Duffield said she had received some “pretty unpleasant” threats online, and had contacted the police.
“It’s hard to know how serious to take threats by people who post them online. But they’re pretty awful, and I did not want to subject myself and other people to that kind of abuse,” she added. “I’m not imagining they’re necessarily going to physically harm me, but the kind of levels of vitriol is pretty horrible, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to go through that, to be honest.”
In response to the situation, Justin Welby tweeted that "absolutely everybody has the right to be safe from abuse, threat or harm".
"That includes Rosie Duffield AND the transgender community," he said. "It’s about time we looked for our shared humanity in our dealings with others, rather than the division. #disagreewell"
On Monday, Duffield called for a meeting with Keir Starmer and other female Labour MPs to discuss the party's policy on transgender issues.
"Lots of women have been asking to meet with Starmer, in groups or one to one, about this issue," she said. "Obviously he’s incredibly busy, but it would be good to just clarify what our position is as a party, and just to discuss how we go forward with this issue.”