Sian Berry has announced she will not be standing for re-election as co-leader of the Greens over her concerns the party is sending “mixed messages” around trans rights.
The London Assembly member said she felt there was an “inconsistency” around her pledge to fight for equality for transgender people and the party’s choice of spokespeople.
Her decision to step down comes after the party selected Shahrar Ali, the party’s former deputy leader, as the spokesperson for policing and domestic safety.
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Mr Ali has faced allegations of transphobia in the past. He said he has always and would continue to fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
Ms Berry, who has been co-leader alongside Jonathan Bartley since 2018 and stood in the London Mayoral elections twice, said she had been been considering her position following the announcement of the party’s spokespeople in June.
“Green leaders rightly do not exert control over all our party’s actions, and our principles of internal democracy are very important to me,” she said in a statement.
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“These mean accepting that decisions can sometimes be made by our governing bodies that leaders do not agree with, but which we are bound to represent.
“However, I must also stand by our policies and my pledges made to Londoners in the recent election, and there is now an inconsistency between the sincere promise to fight for trans rights and inclusion in my work and the message sent by the party’s choice of front bench representatives.
“This inconsistency has left me in a very difficult position. I can no longer make the claim that the party speaks unequivocally, with one voice, on this issue.
“And my conscience simply cannot agree with the argument that there is anything positive in sending these mixed messages, especially when the inclusive attitudes of our membership and wider society are clear.”
She added: “In the coming elections for new members of the party executive and leadership, we must all ask ourselves important questions about the values our party upholds at this pivotal moment. Will we continue to embrace the principles of listening and solidarity when minority groups are singled out for attack?”
The move comes just over a week after co-leader Mr Bartley announced he would be stepping down at the end of July, triggering a leadership contest.
Ms Berry will remain as acting leader throughout the election but will not be standing as a candidate, she said. Mr Bartley announced he would be stepping down to spend more time with his family.
A Green Party spokesperson said: “We would like to thank Sian for the huge role she has had in helping to make the Green Party the new major force in British politics in the three years she has been co-leader.
“Since being elected, Sian has led the Green Party to two record breaking local election results, a strong general election result and a spectacular European election result which saw the party more than double its number of MEPs.
“At the same time, Sian has led the way as, until recently, the leader of the Greens in City Hall and coming third in the election for London Mayor.
“We are now finalising the process of the leadership election which was triggered by Jonathan Bartley announcing he was standing down last week. We will release the details as soon as we are able. Sian will remain the party’s acting leader until this election is held.
“With the potential of a general election in the next two years, we look forward to moving on to a new generation of leadership, who will continue to build on the hard work of both Sian and Jonathan over the last few years.”
The party said it would not be commenting on individuals but defended its record on transgender rights, with a spokesperson said Greens are “proud to be the most progressive party on issues ranging from trans rights to immigration, from the rights of women to the climate emergency”.
“It is important that it is our members who decide this policy and it is absolutely right that the party supports trans, non-binary and genderqueer people to live their lives without discrimination or state or medical interference.”
The spokesperson added: “It is important to recognise that women’s rights and trans rights go hand in hand and the party conference continues to consider policy proposals on this issue.”