Scottish Election 2021: Labour pledges to reinstate women-only hospital wards

Labour's manifesto says the Equality Act will frame its equality policies.Labour's manifesto says the Equality Act will frame its equality policies.
Labour's manifesto says the Equality Act will frame its equality policies.
Scottish Labour has committed to reverse a move towards mixed-sex hospital wards, and to protect single-sex sports to encourage women and girls to compete.

The party’s manifesto, launched today, also says the party will introduce new guidance to “prevent harmful stereotyping” around gender, and that it will use the Equality Act of 2010 to frame equality policies.

The focus on single-sex issues in the manifesto comes as it was revealed the party had received a complaint about a tweet by one of its candidates which depicted a women’s organisation as the equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan.

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The tweet by north east regional list candidate and transwoman, Heather Herbert, was of a cartoon which had a white hooded character wearing the logo of For Women Scotland, a new grassroots group which has raised concerns about the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, and which has campaigned for sex to be added to the Hate Crime Bill in a bid to have women protected.

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Scottish election 2021: Scottish Labour launches women’s manifesto to put women ...

Herbert, who has been asked for comment, has previously provoked controversy after accusing Scottish Labour MSPs Johann Lamont and Elaine Smith of transphobia for speeches they gave in Holyrood on International Women’s Day.

A spokesperson for Scottish Labour said: “The tweet in question has been deleted. All complaints are handled and investigated in line with the party’s rules and procedures.”

The Scotsman understands the complaint will go to a hearing, although the party refused to confirm when it would be heard.

Trina Budge of For Women Scotland said: “It is unacceptable for an MSP candidate to smear a grassroots women's group in such a vile and offensive way.

"We are trying to have respectful discussions about women's rights in policy and law and it is not appropriate for a potential parliamentarian to be so openly hostile and inflame an already intimidating and toxic debate for women.

"We trust Scottish Labour will act decisively to remove Herbert as a candidate as they unfortunately had to do with a similar incident with a candidate during the 2019 general election.”

The party’s manifesto says it will support amending the Hate Crime Bill “so that misogyny and hate against women is included within its scope” and that it is “committed to seeing more women and girls participating in sport at all levels”.

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It adds: “We agree that single-sex sports opportunities can help build confidence in sports participation. It can also be essential to ensure that women from various religions and diverse minority communities can participate in sport.”

On women’s health it says the issue has “long been overlooked and under-researched” and supports the calls for a Mesh Charter, including the creation of a fund to support mesh-injured women having choice over where they

have removal surgery.

It further states: "We commit to protect and reinstate women’s wards in hospitals” and wants to ensure all women “have access to the full range of reproductive services”, will “protect the right of women to have access to a safe, legal abortion” and will “designate buffer zones around clinics to protect the privacy of women.”

The party also says it is committed to “demedicalising” the process of receiving a Gender Recognition Certificate and that it will bring Gender Identity Clinics into line with other NHS services by setting an 18-week target for first appointments.

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