Labour suspends Cazenove by-election candidate following allegation of transphobia

Laura Pascal. Photograph: Hackney Labour

Labour’s candidate for Thursday’s by-election in Hackney has been “administratively suspended” by the party following a complaint about transphobia.

Laura Pascal was fighting to retain the Cazenove seat vacated when Caroline Woodley was elected mayor last year, but the party has now called a halt to any campaigning on her behalf.

With the by-election just days away, it is too late for Labour to field a new candidate, and a party source confirmed that should Pascal win, she will sit as an independent councillor.

It is understood that Pascal was suspended after an allegation of transphobia was made against her by a Labour member, and that the party has decided to investigate.

At time of writing, a tweet pinned to the top of Pascal’s X account reads: “My embodied reality as a member of the oppressed sex class is experienced in a world where biology has a significant impact.

“You can believe what you want but I believe that biological sex is a real thing and neither law or some kind of new scientific concensus would change that.”

Both Hackney Labour and London Labour failed to answer when asked by the Citizen if they were aware of Pascal’s views on sex and gender prior to her selection as the by-election candidate.

Nor did either branch comment when asked whether or not they agree with her view, again posted on X, that “trans women are not female”.

Hackney Green Party said in response to initial reports of Pascal’s suspension: “We and others in the community had previously raised serious concerns about grossly offensive and prejudiced comments shared and ‘liked’ by Laura Pascal on Twitter/X.

“Calls for Hackney Labour to address these concerns, and to explain why Pascal was selected as a candidate in the first place, have been and continue to be met with silence.”

Tamara Micner, the Greens’ candidate for Cazenove, said: “I stand wholeheartedly with all communities in Hackney, whose diversity is our borough’s great strength.

“My aim in this by-election campaign has always been to bring the people of Cazenove together and help heal divisions.

“If elected as your Green councillor on Thursday, I will stand up for all Cazenove residents and add to the fantastic work that Hackney Green councillors are already doing to hold the Labour administration to account and make Hackney a safe community for everyone.”

Liberal Democrat hopeful Dave Raval welcomed the news that Pascal had been suspended “for her anti-LGBT views”.

He added: “The Lib Dems polled second [in Cazenove] last time, so progressives should now vote Liberal Democrat to stop the Tories.”

Hackney Conservatives, whose candidate is Ian Sharer, a former Lib Dem councillor for Cazenove, are yet to comment.

The Labour Women’s Declaration, which describes itself as a movement to “raise the profile of women’s sex-based rights within the party and wider socialist movement”, yesterday called for a hearing of the complaint against Pascal to be carried out in the “next 48 hours”.

In a statement, the group said: “Laura supports the party’s official positions on the defence of single-sex spaces for women.

“As with many female candidates of all parties, there has been much online criticism of her, in her case for wearing a scarf with suffragette colours, and for speaking out in support of Labour’s positions – for example, that sex and gender are different and that sex matters.”

It goes on: “We agree that when complaints about members are received, the party needs to evaluate and investigate, and that during investigations a member sometimes needs to be temporarily suspended. There should also be a presumption of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

“We understand the need for a degree of confidentiality to protect all concerned. However, when complaints are delivered at a time like this, when a suspension will derail the democratic process, the party needs robust processes to weed out any vexatious complaints.

“Delays can also turn the subject of the complaint into a victim of drawn-out proceedings where ‘the process is the punishment’, during which they are unable to make any public comment in their own defence.

“If they do speak out, even after they have been completely exonerated, then further investigations can be imposed by the party, putting the complaint victim into an impossible Catch-22 bind.”

The group then calls on Labour to “instigate the swiftest possible hearing” so that “Laura’s administrative suspension can be lifted and Hackney Labour can return to campaigning for a Labour victory”.

It adds: “This is achievable and is the only honourable course of action.”