This Labour Party politician sides with JK Rowling on trans issues

As the UK inches towards its next general election, another prominent politician from the nominally left-leaning Labour party has proclaimed support for JK Rowling. During a speech on Monday, shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood said that she agreed with Rowling that “biological sex is real and immutable.”

Mahmood took on the role after Labour Party leader Keir Starmer reorganized the shadow cabinet in September. This marks her first major speech since then, in which she framed anti-trans rhetoric as a free speech issue.

“Hashtag movements are sometimes used to shut down debate and often many women have had to go to court, usually in employment tribunals, in order to clarify their rights to free speech,” Mahmood told a group of assembled lawyers at Grays Inn in London, as reported by conservative outlet The Telegraph.

“To clarify their right to believe that for example because you referenced JK Rowling, clarify their right to say that biological sex is real and is immutable – a position that I also agree with,” she continued. “They shouldn’t be in the position of losing their jobs for having views that are perfectly legal, and that they are perfectly entitled to express.”

She concluded that everyone should be able to “take refuge in the laws of our land, they’re there to protect everybody.”

In 2019, Mahmood faced backlash for similar comments that seemed to back the freedom of religious groups to discriminate against queer communities. At the time, a school in Birmingham (which is part of Mahmood’s constituency) experienced protests largely led by religious groups over queer-inclusive lessons. “It is all about the age appropriateness of conversations with young children in the context of religious backgrounds,” she said in a speech at the time.

In a follow-up blog post, she clarified her stance by similarly appealing to the rule of law. “Nowhere have I backed the terrible homophobic banners and hostile protests at Parkfield School, because they are wrong, defeatist and feed the very prejudices I want to help eradicate,” she said.

“I do, however, have an unshakeable belief that all people deserve the full protection of the law, guarding against discrimination in any form.”

Mahmood joins a growing number of the Labour shadow cabinet that have expressed ‘gender critical’ views. After once declaring “trans men are men, trans women are women… get over it,” shadow health secretary Wes Streeting walked back his support in response to the recent Cass report. “Now I sort of sit and reflect and think ‘actually, there are lots of complexities’.”

The UK’s next general election is due for no later than January 2025. For queer citizens hoping for a reprieve from the anti-LGBTQ+ Tory party, the alternatives seem to be getting bleaker by the day.

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