Lanarkshire councilor embroiled in row with women’s rights group

A Lanarkshire councilor has become embroiled in a row with a women’s rights group over transgender issues.

Gender critical group the Sole Sisters say they are “absolutely shocked” by comments from Janine Calikes, who is running to represent Rutherglen Central and North for the second time.

SNP candidate Ms Calikes refused to attend a meeting in Motherwell organized by the organisation, whose members say they want to ‘protect women’s rights’ in Scotland and oppose changes to gender recognition laws .

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However, the local politician said she was “delighted” to decline their invitation and said she would not attend a meeting on transgender issues without transgender people present.

She added that she thought the purpose of the invitation was simply to find out which local candidates were in favor of trans rights, because gender recognition reform is not a local council issue.

A spokeswoman for the Sole Sisters told Lanarkshire Live: “We were absolutely shocked by the response – it had an aggressive and abusive tone.

“The meeting was simply about women’s rights and how government proposals are already affecting and will impact them. Everyone was welcome and our speakers are experts in their field, regardless of gender.

“It’s always worth noting that getting people to speak out at these events takes a tremendous amount of courage as few are willing to put themselves at risk in the face of abuse by trans rights activists.

“Ms Calikes was the only councilor to be abusive. We had a very polite exchange with another councilor who was simply mistaken in that she thought we were a branch of For Women Scotland and all other people who responded were respectful.”

In her response to the panel, Ms Calikes said having a debate on transgender issues without a trans person was the same as discussing disabilities without a disabled person.

Ms Calikes told us she had no regrets about the way she handled the case and accused Sole Sisters of acting in ‘bad faith’ during the debate.

She said: “Sole Sisters acted in bad faith and I make no apologies for outright dismissing them. I am an intersectional feminist who subscribes to the great Maya Angelou’s idea that none of us is free until we are all free.

“This anonymous individual or group claims to support women’s rights, but regularly targets women who disagree with them. Since they pointed the finger at me, I have had to disable comments on all my networks due to misinformation and unacceptable abuse – some of it deeply misogynistic in nature – against myself but also against the LBGT community.

“I entered local politics to give women like me a voice in shaping their communities and services. I will not be intimidated, I will always stand up for what is right and I certainly won’t.”

The Motherwell meeting went as planned, with Conservative and Independent candidates for Scotland in attendance.

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