UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has declared that 100% of women do not have penises, after Labour Party leader Keir Starmer had previously suggested that just 99.9% of females do not possess the male reproductive organ.
When asked earlier this week by the right-leaning website Conservative Home if he believed that 100% of women do not have penises, Sunak replied: “Yes, of course.”
The Conservative Party prime minister, who succeeded Liz Truss after her brief stay in Downing Street last year, added that he believed that “compassion and understanding and tolerance” should be maintained for people “who are thinking about changing their gender.”
The question directed at Sunak appeared to be in reference to a similar query posed by UK newspaper The Sunday Times to his political rival, Labour leader Keir Starmer, who said that he believed that just 99.9% of women “haven’t got a penis.”
The statements made by both Sunak and Starmer come as part of a broader debate over transgender rights, an increasingly bubbling subplot in sociopolitical affairs in the UK and abroad in recent years.
It was reported earlier this month that Sunak is to consider changing the definition of sex in law to create greater “clarity” as it relates to women-only spaces and activities – a move which would appear to underscore a campaign pledge made last year to address womens’ rights.
A review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) this month said that amending the language of the Equality Act of 2010 to specifically refer to “biological sex” was something that merited debate and consideration.
This proposal has been fiercely criticized by the human-rights group Liberty, which said that Sunak’s comments on the issue are grounded in “transphobic assumptions” and were a means for politicians to use the lives of transgender people as a “pawn in the culture wars.”
Labour, meanwhile, has not adopted a unified stance on trans affairs. MP Rosie Duffield from Canterbury said that she felt it was “dystopian” that Starmer would not say that women could not have penises. However, the party’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, stated on Thursday that she believed that reinforcing women-only spaces need not come at the expense of transgender rights.
Neither Sunak nor Starmer in their comments appeared to have addressed intersex persons, who have a rare biological condition through which a male or a female can be born with contrasting reproductive organs.