Green Party is sued for ‘institutional sexism’ by an ex-official who claims leaders ‘purged’ members who questioned its trans policy
- Dawn Furness alleges she was twice assaulted for questioning the trans policy
- She says some officials were seen shouting ‘TERF’ as they watched her on TV
- Ms Furness is seeking damages of at least £10,000 for alleged discrimination
The Green Party is being sued for ‘institutional sexism’ by a former official who claims that its leaders permitted a ‘purge’ of members who dared to question its ‘trans women are women’ policy.
Dawn Furness alleges she was twice assaulted at party conferences after questioning the position that there is no material difference between males who identify as female and women.
She also claims that so-called trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) – a derogatory term to describe those opposed to trans ideology – were named and shamed using ‘TERF Blocker’ software that flashed alerts on computer screens when members had allegedly expressed views on social media contrary to the party’s trans policy.
Among those identified by the software, she alleges, was Caroline Lucas, the only Green MP and a former party leader.
And she says that some officials were seen bellowing ‘TERF’ when she appeared on TV screens at the party’s headquarters in December 2019 while the results for the Blyth Valley constituency in which she unsuccessfully stood were read out.
Ms Furness, who was expelled from the party in February having previously been a member of its executive committee, is now seeking damages of at least £10,000 for alleged discrimination.
Dawn Furness (pictured) alleges she was twice assaulted at party conferences after questioning the position that there is no material difference between males who identify as female and women
News of the potential court battle is a blow to the Greens less than three weeks before local elections in which, given the renewed focus on climate change and the cost of living crisis, party chiefs had hoped to enjoy success.
But Ms Furness told The Mail on Sunday: ‘People have this idea of the Green Party as being pro-women because they have had lots of female leaders, but they don’t even have a women’s rights policy.
‘Women are being removed from the party and cannot even describe their own anatomy without being accused of transphobia.’
The 46-year-old said rancour over the party’s trans policy was such that she and other leaders of its women’s group had required a police escort to get to a conference fringe event in Newport in October 2019 following threats of violence.
She claims to have been confronted by a party member at the same conference while handing out flyers and pushed down a flight of stairs.
At a party gathering in Scarborough earlier that year, she alleges that one of the party’s LGBT activists pushed her over inside the conference hall.
‘I was shaking and burst into tears,’ she said.
Ms Furness was suspended from the Green Party in February when a senior official complained that she had contacted one of his former employees.
She denied any wrongdoing but was expelled twelve days later.
She attributes her removal to her opposition to the party’s trans policy, a stance that she believes is hampering its electoral chances.
‘We need to get back control of the party so we can combat climate change,’ she said.
Ms Furness also claims that so-called trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) – a derogatory term to describe those opposed to trans ideology – were named and shamed using ‘TERF Blocker’ software that flashed alerts on computer screens when members had allegedly expressed views on social media contrary to the party’s trans policy. Among those identified by the software, she alleges, was Caroline Lucas (pictured), the only Green MP and a former party leader.
Her solicitor Peter Daly, a partner at Doyle Clayton, said: ‘These are serious and extensive accusations of discrimination involving a litany of events.
‘In the absence of a full and public concession from the Green Party, this case will require long, detailed litigation.
‘We are confident that such an exposure of Green Party culture, policies and procedures will result in the full vindication of our client.’
Last night, a Green Party spokeswoman said: ‘We do not comment on individual legal cases.
‘The Green Party strongly defends the right of party members to contest our policies and embraces both free speech and respectful deliberation.
‘We are also clear in our support for trans rights. Our policy in this area has been voted for by our members on several occasions.’
Ms Lucas, who is MP for Brighton Pavilion, referred the MOS to the comment issued by her party.
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