THE entire leadership of a constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Sussex has resigned in a bitter row over allegations of transphobia.
The resignation of all six members of the Bexhill & Battle Labour Party executive committee was confirmed in a letter seen by the Star.
It was also sent to local party members and the party’s south-eastern regional office.
It says that the committee took the “unanimous decision to resign” over allegations of “serious abuse and harassment” by a local party member who has attempted to “shut down all discussion of gender issues” by making allegations of “transphobia.”
The executive committee members wrote that they had no choice but to step down as they were unable to protect themselves and other members from abuse.
They said the regional office’s failure to deal with the allegations has damaged the party’s ability to function effectively with officers’ time being tied up with internal disciplinary matters “instead of fighting the Tories.”
A member of Bexhill Labour Party, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, told the Star that there were “Machiavellian plots” to smear members and silence debate in the local party.
The member said that local branches and CLPs have faced emergency motions branding those who wish to debate the controversial Gender Reassignment Bill as “transphobes,” which has created a climate of fear in the party.
“We are living with the constant threat of accusations of transphobia. This is a silencing tactic being used to shut down debate,” the member added. “But we need to be able to talk about it: that’s democracy.”
The committee confirmed that it had written to the party for clarification of its definition of transphobia as its members are worried that it is being misused to close down debate.
According to the source similar allegations are being raised “across the board,” including in neighbouring Hastings & Rye CLP, where party officials are said to be “on the edge.”
Under the government’s proposals, people would be able to self-declare their gender. However, some women have raised concerns over being excluded from debates about women-only spaces that include prisons, rape crisis centres, hospital wards and domestic-violence refuges.