SIR Keir Starmer has said it is wrong to say that only women have a cervix.

The UK Labour leader said: “It is something that shouldn’t be said, it is not right.”

The often heated debate on transgender and sex-based rights should be conducted using "proper views", he added. 

Sir Keir made the comment in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr in Brighton, where the party is holding its first physical conference since the Covid pandemic began.

Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP for Canterbury, has been accused of transphobia for saying on Twitter that only women have a cervix, the other name for the neck of the womb.

Her statement brought her into conflict with trans rights supporters who say that people born male who now identify as women are truly women, regardless of their anatomy.

The idea is encapsulated in the slogan 'trans women are women'.

Ms Duffield said she felt unsafe attending her party's conference because of the abuse she had received, including from fellow Labour members.

On the Marr show, Sir Keir was asked: “Does someone who thinks only women have a cervix is welcome in the Labour party?”

He replied: “We need to have a mature, respectful debate about trans rights.

“We need to I think bear in mind that the trans community are amongst the most marginalised and abused communities, and wherever we’ve got to in the law we need to go further, and we want to go further on that. 

“But wherever the debate is, it needs to be a tolerant debate and I am absolutely sure that our conference will be a place which is safe for that debate to take place, and it is.”

Sir Keir was then asked: “Is it transphobic to say only women have a cervix?”

He said: “It is something that shouldn’t be said, it is not right.”

The Scottish Government is currently planning to reform the law to make is quicker and easier for trans people to change their gender in the eyes of the law, reducing the time period from two years to six months and ending the need for a medical diagnosis.

Critics say the switch to a self-ID system could be abused by men seeking access to women-only spaces such as changing rooms, prisons and refuges.

Nicola Sturgeon recently said such concerns, while sincere, were ultimately “not valid”. 

The UK Government had promised similar reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, but has since backtracked on its commitment.

Asked why Rosie Duffield should not have said that only women have a cervix, Sir Keir said: “I don’t think we can just go through various things that people have said. 

“Rosie Duffield, I spoke to Rosie earlier this week and told her that conference was a safe place for her to come, and it is a safe place for her to come.

“I spoke to others to make exactly the same principle. We do everybody a disservice if we reduce what is a really important issue to these exchanges on particular things that are said.

“The trans community, as I say, are the most marginalised and abused of many, many communities and we need to make progress on the Gender Recognition Act.

“I am very concerned that this debate needs to be conducted in a proper way, with proper views expressed in a way that is respectful.”

Asked why Ms Duffield continued to feel uncomfortable about attending conference, Sir Keir said he made it clear to her that it was a safe conference.

But he added: “What she said to me was that she didn’t want to come because it would cause a distraction from the ideas we’re putting forward at this conference.

“I asked her whether that was something I could say on her behalf and she said yes. So that’s what Rosie says about this, and I’ll take that from Rosie.”

Sir Keir's comments were criticised by the Labour Women's Declaration, which campaigns on sex-based rights within the Labour party.