Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has reacted to a transgender row involving a Kent MP, stating it is "not right" to say only women have a cervix.
Sir Keir made the comment when responding to questions about the controversial views of Kent's only Labour MP, Rosie Duffield.
The Canterbury MP has received a torrent of criticism regarding her personal stance on trans rights, including the belief that only women have a cervix.
Appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show this morning, Sir Keir was asked by the host: "Is it transphobic to say only women have a cervix?"
Sir Keir replied: “It is something that shouldn’t be said, it is not right.”
When asked by Mr Marr: "Why should Rosie Duffield not have said that?", Sir Keir responded: "I don't think that we can just go through various things that people have said.
"I spoke to Rosie earlier this week and told her the conference was a safe place for her to come and it is a safe place for her to come, and I spoke to others to make exactly the same principle.
"We do everybody a disservice when we reduce what is a really important issue to these exchanges on particular things that are said. The trans community are the most marginalised and abused of many communities and we need to make progress on the Gender Recognition Act."
He also called for a "mature, respectful debate" on the subject of trans rights, adding: "I'm absolutely sure our conference will be a place that is safe for that debate to take place."
It comes after Ms Duffield called for a meeting with Sir Keir last week to discuss the party's stance on transgender issues, confirming she would not be attending Labour's annual conference over fears she could face abuse because of her views.
Last August, Ms Duffield was branded a “transphobe” on Twitter after liking a controversial tweet by Piers Morgan in which he took issue with a CNN post that referred to “individuals with a cervix” in a reminder about the importance of smear testing.
"It is something that shouldn’t be said, it is not right" - Sir Keir Starmer
Mr Morgan replied to the tweet, asking: “Do you mean women?”
After endorsing Mr Morgan’s view, Ms Duffield was flooded with complaints from social media users arguing that the comment undermined the status of transgender men.
Responding to the criticism, the Canterbury MP wrote: “I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix....?!”
Her comments sparked backlash from many, including bosses at Pride Canterbury, who called for her to apologise.
Posting on Twitter earlier this month, Ms Duffield said while she has "always fully supported the rights of all trans people to live freely as they choose", she worries about the erasure of women’s safe spaces.
"I do not accept self-ID as a passport for male-bodied biological men to enter protected spaces for biological women," said the MP, who has spoken openly about her own experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse.
“That includes DV refuges, women’s prisons, single-sex wards and school toilets."
Ms Duffield has been asked for comment.