Keir Starmer has said a Labour MP was wrong to say “only women have a cervix” amid a dispute in the party over transgender issues.
Rosie Duffield, the MP for Canterbury, has spoken out in opposition to self identification for trans people.
She decided not to attend Labour’s conference in Brighton this weekend, saying she did not feel safe as a result.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Starmer called for a “mature, respectful debate” about trans rights.
“We need to I think bear in mind that the trans community are amongst the most marginalised and abused communities,” he said.
“Wherever we’ve got to in the law we need to go further, and we want to go further on that.”
He added: “But wherever the debate is, it needs to be a tolerant debate and I am absolutely sure that our conference will be a place which is safe for that debate to take place, and it is.”
Asked if it was transphobic to say only women have a cervix, as Duffield has, Starmer said: “It is something that shouldn’t be said, it is not right.”
Labour favours updating the Gender Recognition Act to enable a process for gender self-identification.