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Greens members leave after 'transphobic' article in magazine

Boris Jancic, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 3 September 2019, 6:13PM
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson apologised on social media for the harm caused by the article. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson apologised on social media for the harm caused by the article. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)

The Green Party has caused outrage among its members by publishing an article criticising the party's push for trans rights in its official magazine.

The article, written by long-time Green Party member Jill Abigail, appeared in the latest edition of party publication Te Awa and said some "older feminists" within the party were concerned the party was putting gender identity over the rights of biological women.

Abigail was particularly critical of MP Jan Logie's comments in a previous issue that: "We continue to push for progress on LGBTQI+ freedoms, and resist the backlash that's trying to undermine our trans and gender diverse whanau and roll back their hard-won rights".

"I am a lesbian, supposedly under their umbrella, but I am part of the backlash," Abigail wrote.

She said while trans people were vulnerable and "justly" claiming their right to equal treatment, the free speech of those who opposed "male-bodied trans women" entering "female-only spaces" was being shut down with accusations of hate speech.

The article was taken down after a about week, following a series of complaints by members.

Online, various party members described the article as transphobic and some have gone as far as to call it hate speech. A few came to Abigail's defence, particularly on grounds of free speech.

The Herald understands the party's Rainbow wing had lodged a complaint, but requests for comment were not answered.

Te Awa is put together by a board of volunteers independent of the party's politicians. The editor declined to comment on Tuesday.

In a statement, a spokesman for the party said the board had apologised.

"We regret that the article was published without a response or right of reply from the affected community, and that our party policy wasn't made clear," he said.

"The Green Party upholds the value of diversity and inclusion and we want to reassure members of this."

A long-time member and former candidate for the Green Party, speaking on condition of anonymity, called for the board to resign to allow for fresh elections.

"They were … not sorry, didn't see a problem, that it would stay up, and felt we were overreacting."

The member said the inference trans women were not real women was offensive and "tremendously unfair".

"Trans people already struggle enough with not being able to have gender reassignment surgery without women being scared they're going to be sexually assaulted by them because they still have a penis. It can't get more bigoted than that."

Another member said she had resigned from the party over what she said was a lack of action, and that others had done the same.

MP Logie took to Facebook, outlining the party's position amid the criticism.

"We have an urgent human rights challenge to realise the rights of trans and non-binary people," she said.

"I don't think it's in anyway acceptable to suggest those rights threaten anyone else."

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson, also on Facebook, apologised for the harm caused by the article.

"We are actively working on resolving this," she said.

Both MPs declined to comment on the matter on Tuesday.

The Herald has been unable to contact Abigail.


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