Green party incorrectly sacked spokesperson in part over trans rights views, court rules | Green party

The Green party incorrectly removed a spokesperson in part because of his views on transgender rights, a court has ruled, while saying the wrongdoing was largely procedural and that parties are allowed to sack people because their views contravene policy.

Shahrar Ali, a former deputy leader of the Greens in England and Wales, began legal action last year after the party had sacked him as the spokesperson for policing and domestic safety in February 2022.

Ali’s views on transgender issues – he has described the biology of sex as “real and immutable” – are contrary to the party’s official stance and have been at the centre of previous internal rows over the issue.

In 2021, Siân Berry quit as the party’s co-leader over what she said was the tension between her support for transgender rights and “the message sent by the party’s choice of frontbench representatives”, understood to be a reference to Ali’s position.

In a ruling released on Friday, the mayor’s and City county court in London said that Ali’s removal had been procedurally unfair, and it could not be ruled out that this was due to Ali’s beliefs on transgender issues. He was awarded £9,100 for injury to feelings.

Ali said outside the court that this was “a landmark case”, likening it to other recent cases where people with so-called gender critical views were found to have been wrongly discriminated against. However, the ruling itself was more caveated.

While Judge Stephen Hellman found for Ali on one count, he rejected other complaints. He also set out that, while the way Ali had been dismissed was unfair and could have been based on his views, more generally, political parties are able to remove spokespeople for advocating non-party views as long as they do so fairly.

Ali took a different view, saying: “This is about women’s and children’s rights, and our right, within politics, to be able to articulate, ventilate and foster genuine debate on matters of great consequence without fear of disproportionate consequence.”

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Jon Nott, the chair of the Greens’ executive, said: “We are pleased that the court has recognised that a democratic political party has the right to select those who speak for it on the basis that they can and will communicate and support party policy publicly.

“We welcome the findings in the judgment that members of political parties have ‘fundamental party rights’ which include the right to disagree, to advocate for and against policies and positions adopted or proposed in the party, and to organise for those who agree with them and against those who do not, and that the Equality Act is not intended to interfere with those rights.

“The party acknowledges that there were procedural shortfalls in how we deselected one of our spokespeople. We apologise for failing in this instance to live up to the standards that both we and the court expect.”

Ali has long campaigned on transgender issues in the Green party. While he has some support, he has also been criticised.

After serving as deputy leader from 2014 to 2016, he has stood to be the party’s leader three times, in 2018, 2020 and 2021, coming second in 2018 and last on the other occasions.

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