Jude English

It’s not easy to get time with Jude these days, deeply involved with the Green Party she is much in demand. Whether it’s due to her serving as a local councillor in Bristol for the last 8 years, or through her co-chairing duties for Green Party Women or organising webinars with Green Women’s Declaration or even her commitment to ballroom dancing, it’s strictly appointment only.

We manage to steal half an hour on the phone before she gets called into another meeting, so I open the conversation with, Why the Green Party. “I’ve always been an activist”, she talks quickly, a sign of her passion, conviction and deep understanding of issues. Justice and fairness are top of her agenda along with fighting oppression. She tells me how this was shaped through regular trips to the Burghfield Peace camps and coming out just as the Thatcher’s government had passed Section 28 (of the local government act). “It wasn’t a brilliant time to be a lesbian” she says with honesty, but it gave her plenty to protest about. There were also fun times, as an undergraduate in Brighton, the gay capital of Sussex and at the Michigan Women’s Festival, that she attended three times to see Melissa Etheridge and fellow environmentalists, the Indigo Girls. Jude doesn’t want to talk too much about herself, she’s keen to stick to politics, so we move on.

It wasn’t until 2006 when the Stern Review, “The Economics of Climate Change” was published, that Jude joined the Green Party. Previously leaderless, she was inspired by Caroline Lucas, the first leader, who at the time embodied everything that Jude held dear, female independence and green values. “ As a green lesbian I embodied everything green, I embodied being a woman and fighting for women’s rights, it’s about as green as you can get.”

Quite quickly, the tone of our conversation changed from one of enthusiasm to that of frustration and betrayal. “For forty years, you live an independent life, half of those spent as a proud Green Party member, critically reflecting on the state of the planet, living your truth, supporting social justice movements and now look at the Green Party, I thought it was a party of tolerance and acceptance, of liberal thought. But I find it misogynist, homophobic and deeply intolerant.”

On asking more questions Jude directs me to the Green Women’s Declaration website where the root of her betrayal becomes apparent. On its pages we can read, “Women’s rights, based on the reality of biological sex, have been eroded within the GPEW, as elsewhere in society. We believe the consequences of this disregard for the protected characteristic of sex are extremely damaging for women and girls, especially lesbians, mothers and those who are disabled. There now exists a chilling atmosphere of censure and fear within the Party, which affects not only free speech but also free thought.”

Jude reveals that she has become one of the latest number of women and “gender critical” party members to receive a no fault suspension. When this occurs, it prevents the recipient being able to participate in party affairs both locally, regionally and nationally. It should be a very short temporary measure, whilst the disciplinary committee investigate. It is intended to be fair to all parties and was initially designed to be used only where there is a risk to the party. However, Jude tells me how this process has become “a blatant abuse of power and privilege against people less powerful and that it runs deep, with the process being used to raise malicious and vexatious complaints against political opponents.” She explains that is being used to “disable and silence” party members, particularly those who hold office or are standing for election or those who speak up for women’s rights and question the gender identity ideology that has gripped the party. The party recently introduced its Guide to Identifying Queerphobia, which she believes replaced sex with gender and was written with the express purpose to shut down any opposition to gender identity ideology.

Women’s rights campaigner Maya Forstater in referring to the Queerphobia guidance on X said: “The Greens’ witch hunters guide is evidence of unlawful discrimination.

It’s now impossible to use the word lesbian in the Green Party without including men or getting caught up in a war of words. To do so would risk falling foul of the Queerphobia Guidance and also being called a transphobe.

Here’s what the Green Party’s Queerphobia Guidance has to say on the use of the word lesbian which is reduced to ‘a label’.

“Defining a label to disrespect or disregard another person’s autonomy, for example, trying to use the word lesbian to only refer to cis women who are attracted to cis women, excluding trans women on the wrongful belief that trans women aren’t “real women”. Please note, some trans men and non binary people also use the word lesbian to describe their attraction to other people, which should be seen as valid if they are choosing to use the label for themselves, but is transphobic if another person is ascribing this to a trans man or non binary person who doesn’t use the label for themselves.”

Lesbian is a sexual orientation not a label. Jude has also written an article, “A Lesbian Perspective” which you can read in full on the Green Women’s Declaration website. In it she states, “it’s necessary to note that single sex Lesbian spaces are valuable, important, and protected in law. These spaces, and our right to have them, are challenged by boundary crossing, intimidation and reality denial by men outside and inside the Green Party.” She is also very careful to point out that the word lesbian means same sex attracted and applies to females.

A picture of the “modern” Green Party is emerging, it seems to be part of the anti feminist backlash we are seeing at the moment in the name of trans activism which is trying to portray itself as the new civil rights movement.

Jude is fighting her suspension. She is waiving her right to anonymity. At the time of writing this article we are still waiting to see the actual content of the complaint but she says, “I have been suspended because I am a lesbian, because I stand up for women’s sex based rights, because I facilitated a webinar with barrister Sarah Phillimore discussing the favourable outcome of cases for Jo Phoenix and Rachel Meade which were examined alongside the recent Shahrar Ali vs GPEW judgement. I am proud of that webinar, it’s discrimination.” You can watch the webinar here.

Jude’s no fault suspension arose in advance of the local council elections in May, preventing her from standing for a third term as a local councillor but she is determined not to let it wreck her political career.

Our half hour is up, Jude is off to another meeting and then it’s onto her ballroom dance class. She will be dancing on the Pride stage again this year with Bristol based, Equality Dance. Just one more question, do you lead or follow? “Lead of course”, she says with a chuckle.

We’ll follow up with Jude later to find out the outcome of her no fault suspension, which we hope is resolved soon.

If you believe you have been discriminated against for being a lesbian you have protections under the Equality Act and are advised to seek legal advice.

Resources and References

Stern Review a summary https://www.lse.ac.uk/granthaminstitute/publication/the-economics-of-climate-change-the-stern-review/

Williams, Nathan : Now’t so Queerphobic as Folk published by the Critic 17th October 2023 – available online https://thecritic.co.uk/nowt-so-queerphobic-as-folk/

The Christian Institute : Green Party accused of gender-critical ‘witch hunt’ available on line https://www.christian.org.uk/news/green-party-accused-of-gender-critical-witch-hunt/

English, Jude : A Lesbian Perspective published by the Green Women’s Declaration and Available online https://greenwomensdeclaration.uk/a-lesbian-perspective/

Dodd, Kate : Guidance to Identify Queerphobia Final Edition July 2023 published by the Green Party and available on line https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bIvJ1MYZyt-sLwnGUzL6WCLSuL7T7AHM/view

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