The National misrepresents women’s rights campaigners

The National recently published a broadside against long-standing council member Sue Lent. We are pleased to note she has retained her seat in Plasnewydd despite this vicious attack on her reputation. Sue has also been supported by Labour Women’s Declaration.

Our organisation was mentioned several times in the article in ways which misrepresented us and our aims. We wrote to the editor, Gavin Thompson to ask him to correct this misstatement. Our letter, and our statement of support for Sue, has been posted here.

He responded:

I write in reply to your recent letter. The article relating to Sue Lent was a factual and accurate report of the comments of a candidate standing for election on a matter of public interest. The article reported those comments and views and provided evidence to support them. I don’t believe there is any dispute that Sue Lent holds the views we have reported.


You highlight the reference to Merched Cymru as “a group that campaigns against the right of trans women to use women’s facilities and participate in women’s sport”. In your letter, you acknowledge that this is accurate, albeit as a part of the wider agenda you reference.

Readers will make up their own minds on the matter, but I make no apologies for The National bringing it to their attention.


Our response is as follows:

Thank you for your response to our letter of 6 th May 2022. We have noted its contents.

Your assertion that in our letter we acknowledge as accurate the description of Merched Cymru as “a group that campaigns against the right of trans women to use women’s facilities and participate in women’ sport” is completely false. We do not campaign for the removal of the rights of any protected group, whether trans or not, nor, for that matter the removal of anyone’s human rights.

Perhaps your mistaken assertion is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the law. This misunderstanding is unfortunately quite common; but it has contributed significantly to the creation of a hostile climate where reasoned discussion is difficult. The provisions of the Equality Act 2010 quite rightly protect people with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment from discrimination, victimisation or harassment because they are transitioning, have transitioned or intend to transition. However, there is nothing in current legislation that confers rights on people with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment to access facilities, use services or spaces, or compete in sports designated for people of the opposite sex for reasons of privacy, dignity, safety or fairness.

Individuals and organisations, including newspapers, are of course free to argue or campaign to change the law if they believe that trans people should have those rights. It is however disingenuous and contributes to public misunderstanding if the law is consistently misrepresented in the way The National Wales is doing. It also does little to foster good relations between different groups as set out in the legislation. In fact it does the opposite.

As you are aware the EHRC is the regulatory body for the Equality Act 2010 and publishes official guidance on the law and codes of practice. You may wish to consult them or their most recently published guide so that you do not continue to publish misleading information about legislation or make incorrect claims about groups campaigning to maintain the sex-based legal rights of women and girls under current law.

We at Merched Cymru remain disappointed in the Welsh media’s failure to cover this important debate in such a lazy and incurious way, and appalled at their willingness to misrepresent feminists and women’s rights activists.