The Green party of England and Wales (GPEW) co-leader, Sian Berry, will not seek re-election in August 2021 citing her pro-trans rights stance as a source of conflict.
“What is Woman” backlash
It is speculated by many that Berry’s decision was spurred by a statement made by former deputy leader and current spokesperson for policing and domestic safety, Shahrar Ali. Ali’s statement on Twitter titled “What is Woman” took a gender critical stance on transgender women, stating that to be a woman one must be born a biological female with the two XX chromosomes.
The statement garnered backlash for being perceived as trans-phobic and in direct opposition to the Green party’s inclusive values. Berry pointed to “the message sent by the party’s choice of front bench representatives” as to the reason for her stepping down on Twitter.
Disputes within the party
The Rainbow Greens, a group representing the LGBTQ+ members of the Scottish Green Party, commented on Berry’s departure from leadership on Twitter. The Rainbow Greens singled out Shahrar Ali as “a key driver of transphobia within the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW)” and they “do not believe he is an appropriate person to hold a spokesperson role within a Green Party.”
The Rainbow Greens went on to explain that by Ali’s campaigning against trans people’s rights to have legal, self-determined gender recognition and healthcare, these beliefs would directly “contravene the agreed policy of the European Green Party.
Some party members however believe that the vast majority of the party are in favour of trans people’s rights and that time could be better spent on fighting the climate crises.
Disputing this claim is Peter Underwood, a Green Party campaigner for Croydon said on Twitter:
“Personally I believe that the Green Party is as much about Social justice as it is about environmental justice – it isn’t a choice of one or the other we have to advance both.”
Andy Brown, Green Party councillor and leader of the Green group on Craven District Council, said to Global Green News in an email:
“…our focus should be on persuading people to share our inclusive attitudes and we need to get better at changing the opinions of those who disagree with us.”
However, Brown made it clear that he is not a spokesperson for the party. Spokespeople are chosen by the party, not by leadership.
Jonathan Bartley, the other co-leader of the party will be stepping down at the end of July 2021 leaving Berry at the helm until a new leader or leaders are elected. Voting takes place from August 31st to September 21st, 2021.