The Welsh Liberal Democrats challenged Plaid Cymru on the eve of their conference to provide clarity on their position on LGBT+ rights and equality.
Last week a young trans woman of colour was removed from a hustings meeting after protesting about her inability to question a panel member and sitting Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Helen Mary Jones, over her previous comments on trans rights. The young woman has since blogged about her experience.
Leena Sarah Farhat, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Diversity lead, said:
“I was in the hustings. I saw a young woman removed from the hustings just for displaying a trans flag. The organization has given a mealy-mouthed statement that means nothing. But even worse, is the Plaid Cymru response. Helen Mary Jones remains a candidate, despite supporting groups that use language that harms and puts trans people at risk.
“If she was a candidate who said similar things about race, or disability, she would have been shown the door a long time ago. Does Plaid Cymru believe trans rights are less important? The lack of action by Plaid when it comes to discrimination is worrying."
Helen Mary Jones has been criticized widely for her support for the anti-trans group Women’s Place, and has shared content that uses trans people’s dead names – an action that puts them at huge risk of reprisal, or other hate crime.
Oliver Townsend, the Welsh Lib Dem candidate for Islwyn, and himself married to a trans man, added his voice to Leena’s call for action:
“This is about fairness, about hearing the voices of people who are under constant attack. My husband’s entire life feels like it is under constant attack from a right-wing element in our country – and I expected better from someone like Helen Mary Jones.
“I used to look up to her. When I was much younger, I thought she spoke so passionately for young people. It breaks my heart that she cannot see the damage she is doing, but sometimes standing up to people you respect is more important than staying silent.”
Both Leena and Oliver have called on Plaid Cymru to issue a statement addressing the row, and to pledge that action will be taken.
“If I was in the workplace, and I was sharing content and views like this,” Oliver said, “I would be disciplined. Plaid really need to think about what message they are sending to LGBT+ people, and those who stand with us.”