Isla MacGregor 0

Australian Greens Must Consult on Women's Human Rights Policies

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We represent a group of people who have previously voted Greens or been Greens Party members. We consider that the undemocratic nature of processes that have held sway within the Greens over the past few years needs to be remedied, particularly in relation to the lack of an integrated policy platform on the commodification of women.

This is a vitally important issue for the Greens internationally as we enter a global period in which climate change and global conflicts disproportionately affect women and children. The fight for women's rights has been subverted and the Greens need to do some serious soul searching to apprehend just how far they have drifted from these core values.

While the Greens party presumably has a policy on women's rights, it’s not a policy that all members support. Previously the issue of prostitution has caused conflict within the Greens, as have surrogacy and pornography. Policy positions have not been shared with the entire membership, nor has a postal ballot been allowed. Instead, the Greens have suppressed alternative viewpoints, listening only to some groups who claim to represent women or those affected by policy, but not to others, including women with different experiences or perspectives. For example, the Greens have listened to 'sex workers' but not to survivors of prostitution; they have listened to gay couples using surrogates but not to surrogates themselves.

The Greens have adopted policies that have given carte blanche to those seeking to exploit women, particularly poor women. Women bought for sex, for pornography or for surrogacy have not had their voices heard. Finally, women's rights have been erased by the conflation of sex and gender. These policies fundamentally support male rights to buy and trade in women's bodies and deny women the ability to fight for their rights based on their class as a sex.

In the last few months things have come to a head with the attack on Melbourne City Councillor Rohan Leppert and the dumping of Victorian Greens Convenor, Linda Gale. Nina Vallins and Anna Kerr were similarly targeted because of their views regarding the impact of gender law reforms on women and children – or more broadly, on women's sex-based rights. Many other members have left the party in disgust at the hounding of people, particularly women, who have striven to take part in debate on important community issues.

Greens member Drew Hutton recently commented on his Facebook page:
'I acknowledge that some of the language, questions and positions posed in recent discussions have been hurtful and harmful to trans people. Women share an experience of being harmed by patriarchy and should be united in the fight against it. There is a need to recognise the many women who came before and acknowledge their activism, their organising, their work and their wins. They need to be respected and listened to.'

We want to make clear that Greens members who’ve been expelled, stood down, vilified, defamed or silenced; who’ve suffered rape and death threats or been denounced on social media have also been hurt. Why has this been disregarded – and why are so many party members unaware of this? These roughly handled members should be given the chance to explain their position via written submissions to be widely circulated. They should be given the opportunity to speak at State and National Council meetings. Only when this happens will a fair debate occur.

Recent decisions by world sporting bodies to protect women's sports from unfair inclusion of trans athletes have come about only after years of sustained activism by sportswomen and men, as well as from organisations like Save Women's Sports Australasia and Fair Play for Women in the UK. Fairplay for Women met with 30 sports governing bodies. As a result, these entities finally recognised that their prior policies were both unfair and unscientific. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Greens need to publicly acknowledge that, in their rush to comply with the demands of the trans minority, they have failed to ask: "What is the right course of action to take when perceived rights are in conflict?". Sadly, some MPs, staffers and members have instead chosen to attack dissenters within the party and to prevent other citizens from speaking on these issues at public forums.

Such actions were aptly described by former prominent Greens member, Professor Peter Singer:
'The suggestion by some prominent Greens that Linda Gale must confess to being "transphobic" and recant her 2019 views in order to retain the convenorship to which she was democratically elected has unpleasantly Stalinist overtones.'

We call on the Australian Greens to restore democracy, to demonstrate that they will listen to all stakeholders on this rights conflict and to furnish all members with the Women’s Declaration on Sex-Based Rights and thus ensure that ALL members are fully informed on these issues.

A brief Summary of the Women's Declaration on Sex-Based Rights follows:

  • We re-affirm the sex-based rights of women and girls.
  • We reaffirm motherhood as an exclusively female status.
  • We reaffirm women's and girls’ rights to physical and reproductive integrity and oppose their exploitation through surrogacy and related practices.
  • We reaffirm women's rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, and political participation.
  • We reaffirm women's rights to fair play in sports.
  • We reaffirm the need to end violence against women and girls, and to protect the rights of children.
  • We oppose all forms of discrimination against women and girls that result from replacing "sex" with "gender identity" in law, policy, and social practice.

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