Sunak speech gave ‘green light’ to attacks on transgender people, says Labour MP

Conservative politicians and sections of the press have “given the green light” for transgender people to be attacked on the street, a Labour MP has said.

Veteran MP Dame Angela Eagle accused Rishi Sunak of “gaslighting” the public during his leader’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference last week, in which he weighed in on debates about transgender rights.

During his speech in Manchester, Mr Sunak said: “We shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t, a man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.”

At an event on the fringes of the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on Monday, Dame Angela attacked the Prime Minister’s comments as “farcical”.

She said: “We see this kind of gaslighting whereby those people who are powerful pretend that somehow they’re being bullied by some kind of ideology that none of us have even come across and we know doesn’t exist.”

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Dame Angela Eagle criticised the Prime Minister’s comments, saying they had given the ‘green light’ for violence (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“We know that there’s been an over 150% increase in the last two or three years in trans hate crimes.

“There’s been increasing hostility towards LGBT people on our streets during the same time because we’ve got people in power and their enablers in the print media basically giving the green light to have violence on the streets by saying these people are not legitimate, these people are a danger.”

Analysis of official figures produced by the charity Stonewall, which jointly hosted Monday’s event with LGBT Labour, showed hate crimes targeting transgender people had risen by 186% in the last five years, including an 11% increase in the past year.

Hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation have risen 112% in the past five years but decreased by 6% in the past year alone.

Dame Angela said: “We have to stand up and call this out and fight it. You can’t sort of get a fanatical view of the world like that, which is deeply problematic, and somehow accommodate it.

“You’ve got to call it out for what it is and you’ve got to be very, very open and say this is not acceptable. All human beings have the right to be themselves and live in dignity without being worried about whether they are going to be attacked on the street simply for who they are.”

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