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Keir Starmer doesn’t know what a woman is – but the Tories do, writes Health Secretary VICTORIA ATKINS

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Like every woman, I want my rights to be protected. Extraordinarily, the only major party which can accurately define what a woman is – and therefore do this – is the Conservatives.

This situation would have seemed implausible when the last Labour government passed the Equality Act in 2010. Discourse has rapidly evolved and toxified in recent years and common sense has been the casualty.

Currently, there is a lack of clarity in the law which has been exploited by activist groups. It has become complex and controversial even to determine who is permitted to enter the single-sex spaces which many women and girls regard as critically important.

Nowhere is it more essential that we have single-sex spaces for biological women than in hospitals. Illnesses and diseases have a vastly differing impact on the biology of men and of women.

For too long, well-meaning doctors and nurses have felt pressured to accept novel definitions of ‘gender’ from aggressive lobby groups instead of relying on their common sense.

Health secretary Victoria Atkins has argued that Sir Keir Starmer does not know what a woman is but the Tories do

Health secretary Victoria Atkins has argued that Sir Keir Starmer does not know what a woman is but the Tories do 

Nowhere is it more essential that we have single-sex spaces for biological women than in hospitals

Nowhere is it more essential that we have single-sex spaces for biological women than in hospitals

So let’s clear this up. Biological sex matters. Patients should be able to expect their health service meets their biological needs. And they have been without this clear guidance on biological sex for too long.

Labour would take this right back to square one. For years, the party has aided and abetted those who put ideology above scientific facts. The words ‘women’ and ‘girls’ are slowly being written out of their vocabulary.

Labour will attack this sensible clarification to the law, and default to identity politics rather than thinking constructively about the issue.

For years, the Left has cried ‘culture wars’ whenever the legitimate concerns of women have been raised. This created the atmosphere of intimidation and fear that Dr Hillary Cass wrote about in her report on the treatment of gender-questioning children in the NHS.

I have seen first-hand the chilling effect this has had on clinicians, journalists and campaigners who were vilified for doing their best to sound the alarm.

I will not let our NHS be overrun by a culture of secrecy and ideology that trumps evidence and safety.

Dr Hillary Cass (pictured) wrote a report on the treatment of gender-questioning children in the NHS

Dr Hillary Cass (pictured) wrote a report on the treatment of gender-questioning children in the NHS

Labour has had years to come up with a credible position but Sir Keir Starmer still can’t say what a woman is

Labour has had years to come up with a credible position but Sir Keir Starmer still can’t say what a woman is

Dr Cass’s report into this made it clear that we must detoxify the debate. To move forward and get on with her recommendations and better protect children and young people, we need more people to face up to the truth and stay grounded in facts. And that is only possible by taking sensible steps such as this.

The Equality Act is unclear in the way it uses the terms sex and gender, which has been exploited by activists who want to make it difficult to provide single-sex services and single-sex spaces. We will clarify that the protected characteristic of sex in the Equality Act means biological sex, not gender.

Labour has had years to come up with a credible position but Sir Keir Starmer still can’t say what a woman is. That is because he is a human weathervane, and he doesn’t know which way the wind is blowing yet.

But we are clear what it is. Only the Conservatives will take the necessary steps to make sure women have a right to the single-sex spaces which are so essential for our privacy, safety and dignity.

The choice is clear. We are on the side of women and girls, the other side is in hock to activist groups who would see our rights eroded.



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