Let’s talk about sex!

The Welsh Government’s ‘LGBTQ+’ Action Plan is allegedly for lesbian, gay and bisexual people as well as those falling under the trans umbrella. We disagree with the government’s approach; this Plan has disturbing implications for all of us who believe that sex is real, immutable and important.

We refuse to be silent when we see the rights and protections based on sexual orientation and sex trashed by a Government which dares to call itself feminist.

We call on Welsh Government to withdraw their Plan and start again. Next time round, they need an honest and open process of consultation, which recognises the different views and respects the issues being raised by gender critical campaigners.

Merched Cymru and the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Alliance Cymru (LGBAC) have joined forces on this campaign. We welcome the support of other groups, including Labour Women’s Declaration Cymru and Lesbian Labour. While this is not a party issue, it is a Labour government making these proposals.

We want people who share our concerns to join in, taking whatever action fits with your priorities and resources. We know all too well that some of us face very real risks from speaking out: we know so many people who have lost their jobs or their friends, who have been doxed and bullied by the very activists who urge us to ‘be kind’.

Both LGBAC and Merched Cymru have asked repeatedly to be involved in drafting this Plan. LGBAC have told Ministers that Stonewall does not represent many of us, and it is wrong to rely on them to write policy or run consultation. Merched Cymru has talked about the loss of rights, dignity and safety for women. We have been rebuffed and excluded. Stonewalled, you might say.

A quick refresher

The Equality Act 2010, which is not devolved, offers certain legal rights to people who share protected characteristics. There are nine such characteristics – including sex (not gender), sexual orientation and gender reassignment (not identity). These definitions all rely on the common understanding of ‘sex’, ‘man’ or ‘woman’: the drafters obviously did not foresee a time when such basic concepts would be the front line of our culture wars.

The Act does not create a hierarchy between the characteristics. Holding a particular faith, for instance, does not trump disability or marital status. The Courts have set out how to decide where there is perceived or actual conflict between different groups. All such procedures rely on evidence-based knowledge of implications for different groups.

The core legal demand from the trans rights movement, particularly pushed by Stonewall, is that people should be allowed for legal and customary purposes to self-identify their sex (usually called selfID). They present selfID as administrative tidying up, as if mixed-sex access to prisons, refuges, changing rooms and hospital wards was a minor bureaucratic matter. And as if demanding access to lesbians’ or gay men’s social spaces and bedrooms was a human right and normal thing to do.

The Welsh Government has committed to campaign for devolution of selfID. In the meantime, the Action Plan takes this controversial stance for granted. The Plan wants health professionals to affirm the ‘gender identity’ of any child confused or distressed by their bodies; they want educationalists to teach the ‘queer umbrella’ without question. And they propose a Pride Commissar to ensure any organisation celebrating our lesbian and gay history adopts right-think.

Action and words

Since the Plan was published for consultation we have been analysing the recommendations, and the paper from the ‘Expert Panel’ created by Stonewall. We are now drafting briefings to support anyone concerned with these issues in lobbying their Senedd members and responding to the formal questions.

Alongside that, we will be hosting a series of blogs, here on the Merched Cymru site, from experts in the fields touched on in the Plan. We know that many professionals are deeply concerned about the implications, and many ordinary people are outraged by their impact. Even when they have to be anonymous, we respect their expertise and experience.

There will be events, starting with the Senedd rally planned for 14 September. And we are exploring whether the Government’s refusal to listen hides anything more sinister, through Freedom of Information requests and the like.

The consultation closes on 22 October.

Please:

  • Follow this page and donate if you can; the postcards, banners and website all rely on volunteers;
  • Follow @LGBAllies_Cymru and @MerchedCymru on Twitter, where we will post links to updates and briefings;
  • Contact your five members of Senedd and talk to them about your concerns;
  • Respond to the consultation, either by answering the questions on the government’s website or by sending an email;
  • Subscribe to Merched Cymru’s newsletters;
  • Talk to friends and family about it;
  • If you use social media on this subject, use hashtags such as #DimDiolch, #SexNotGender, #RhywNidRhywedd and #NoThankYou. And the evergreen #WomenWontWheesht popularised by our Scottish sisters.

Merched Cymru and LGB Alliance Cymru are working together to respond to Welsh Government’s LGBT+ Action Plan. See our page here.