Lesbian campaigners say they are being disregarded in favour of transgender people
A spat has broken out between a lesbian rights group and the country’s leading LGBT organisation.
The Lesbian Rights Alliance (LRA) is claiming Stonewall is negating lesbians by recognising that "male-bodied people with penises" can be lesbians.
In an open letter, the alliance says this claim is “absurd” and erases lesbians from society at the expense of promoting a “trans agenda.”
The letter states: “Stonewall has rarely represented our interests. Now in your single minded policy to promote the trans political and ideological agenda you not only fail to represent us but you actually promote lesbian invisibility – and lesbian erasure.”
All 135 signatories of the letter say lesbians are biological women who are sexually attracted to, and have sexual and emotional relationships with, other biological women only.
They said: “If we refuse to accept these men as lesbians you label us transphobes and terfs, unleashing a torrent of hate speech upon us from your supporters.”
Terfs – trans-exclusionary radical feminists – is a group of feminists which maintains trans women aren't really women.
However lesbian activists have long accused LGBT groups of accusing lesbians of transphobia when they raise this issue.
Julie Amons on Twitter wrote: “We’re lesbian and proud. We are women. We agree with all walks of life but don’t sacrifice us because you (Stonewall) want to promote trans people as the next big thing.”
A Stonewall spokesperson said: "We stand in solidarity with those who are calling out the hate that is trying to divide our community. There are groups in the LGBT community who have been pushed to the side-lines, particularly trans and non-binary people. We’ve been working hard to bring forward the voices that for too long have been silenced or shouted down. What we cannot abide is these under-represented groups being blamed for erasing another, simply because they have finally been given a platform. History has shown that extending equality to one group does not negatively impact others; it in fact strengthens everyone’s equality.
"We’ve recently seen a welcome outpouring of support for trans equality, particularly from cis lesbian, gay and bi people. A movement of lesbians is currently using the hashtag #LwiththeT to reject the views of a small but vocal minority who are determined to create division. What this movement shows is the power of solidarity and why it’s so important to stand up against hate. We’re encouraging everyone from across the community and beyond to be fierce allies. We have a responsibility to raise each other up and to stand united. Together we are stronger."