Natalie Bennett expresses “disappointment” at Rupert Read’s comments

Anna Carruthers 28 January 2015

Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader, has issued a statement expressing her disappointment with Cambridge Green Party Parliamentary Candidate, Rupert Read, who was accused of making transphobic comments last week.

Together with two deputies, Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali, Bennett issued a statement to PinkNews:

“As leaders of the Green Party we wish to state our disappointment with the comments made by Rupert Read and express our sympathies with anyone who was hurt or offended by his remarks.

“We are pleased that Rupert Read has issued a full apology and hope that his meetings with LGBTIQ groups will help to repair some of the upset that has been caused.

“The Green Party is wholly committed to fighting for equality and fair representation for all transgender and LGBTIQ communities and we wish to reiterate and reaffirm our party’s commitment to that cause.We now want to do all we can to move forward positively and continue the important job of standing up for LGBTIQ rights.”

The Green Party Women’s Group further added: “We reiterate the sentiment of the Green Party’s leaders in response to these comments from Cambridge parliamentary candidate; Rupert Read.

“We were deeply concerned that Rupert Read’s comments could promote misunderstanding of trans issues, and of modern feminism. Green Party Women considers feminism which excludes trans people to be an extremist fringe, with no place in the Green party, or the wider feminist movement.

“The feminist movement cannot succeed without paying attention to all aspects of inequality. We welcome all women with open arms, and defer to trans women in issues of particular relevance to them.

“We hope this incident serves as a reminder for all our future candidates of the importance of being informed about issues of oppression. We will continue to work to ensure the party fights for inclusive feminism, and that all our candidates and members are briefed on the issues of all women.”

Rupert Read initially came under fire for his use of the word ‘moron’ on Twitter, which critics felt was an example of able-ist language. Further controversy was then caused when Read appeared to reject the use of the word ‘cis’, leading to claims of transphobia.

Read has since apologised on Twitter and released a full statement of apology:

“I’m sorry. I apologise unreservedly for the real and genuine offence and hurt caused by my tweets and my previous writing. I’m sorry, especially, for the hurt caused to transgender people, who remain sorely oppressed in our society today.

“Life is a journey towards understanding, and I clearly need to spend more time than I already have done listening to transgender people, and if anyone would like spare the time to share their experiences and explain what I and fellow Greens can do to help them I would be grateful for that opportunity. I am taking the LGBTIQ Greens up in their offer extended in their statement, of engaging with them to come to understand better.

“I am deeply sorry for the offence and hurt caused by the manner in which I have spoken about all this. I take responsibility for that.

“The Green Party believes unequivocally in feminism, queer rights, and trans rights, principles I believe in absolutely. Opposing the ongoing horrifying discrimination faced by trans people is absolutely vital, and I am proud to be in a party which has a long history of doing just that. I apologise for the way in which my comments have got in the way of this.

“I will listen to what those who have been hurt by what I’ve said are saying, and I hope to learn from the whole affair, and to improve my understanding of these matters.”