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UK's Sunak criticised over trans jibe

By AFP

February 8, 2024 12:38 PM


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Opposition politicians demanded UK Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologise Wednesday for making a jibe about transgender people in parliament.

The Labour Party seized on the comments, which came as the mother of a murdered transgender girl was visiting the House of Commons to meet lawmakers.

During Prime Minister's Questions, Sunak accused Labour leader Keir Starmer of having difficulty "defining a woman", as he attacked the party over back-tracking on policies.

"I think I have counted almost 30 in the last year. Pensions, planning, peerages, public sector pay, tuition fees, childcare, second referendums, defining a woman -- although in fairness, that was only 99 percent of a u-turn," he said.

The comments appeared to relate to an interview Starmer gave last year in which he said that "99.9 percent of women haven't got a penis".

The Conservatives are trying to stoke so-called culture war issues as it tries to claw back support from Labour ahead of a general election due later this year.

Starmer -- who was due to meet the mother of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old trans girl who was stabbed to death by two teenagers in February last year -- condemned Sunak.

"Of all the weeks to say that when Brianna's mother is in this chamber. Shame," he replied.

Peter Spooner, Brianna Ghey's father, said he was "shocked" by Sunak's words, which he said were "degrading" and "absolutely de-humanising".

The BBC reported that Esther Ghey was not in the public gallery during the exchange but took her seat later.

Sunak refused a call from a Labour MP to apologise, stating instead that Ghey had shown "the very best of humanity in the face of seeing the very worst of humanity".

A spokeswoman for Sunak declined to apologise when pressed by reporters after, saying that it was "totally legitimate" for the prime minister to point out policy u-turns.

A Labour spokeswoman said Sunak should say sorry.

"The comments were deeply offensive to trans people. He should reflect on his response there and apologise," she told reporters.

LGBTQ charity Stonewall said Sunak's comments were "callous and crass".

The Tories, in power since 2010, trail Labour by double-digits in most opinion polls ahead of the nationwide vote, the date of which is not yet known.


AFP


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