Allegations of transphobia in the BC Ecosocialist Party “have taken the wind out of our sails,” executive director Ashwini Manohar said after the party pulled all electoral candidates last week from the upcoming provincial election.
The BC Ecosocialist Party, which was founded in 2019, describes itself as “further left than the NDP, greener than the Greens.”
In a news release issued on Oct. 4, Manohar said the party rescinded allegations of transphobia were levied against the party by a former director.
The damage to the party was a hit from a social media screen shot that went viral, with demands for interim party leader, Stuart Parker to be denounced by the party. Parker has stepped down.
“This week a former director called for the entire provincial council to step down as the failure of the party to condemn Parker is being read as endorsement of his position. On advice of counsel, we have chosen not to issue personal denouncements and expose ourselves to liability for ascribing beliefs to Parker he vehemently denies having,” Manohar said in the statement.
“Parker’s personal views on gender have nothing to do with our current gender equity policy, which was written collaboratively by women and trans people. He is no longer involved with the party in any meaningful way.
“However, given the nature of the allegations and to prevent our candidates from further attack and reputational damage, we have elected not to field any candidates. It is also our view that we will not build a broad-based egalitarian party if we permit it to be used to settle personal scores between individuals whose interpersonal issues predate the party’s existence by decades,” Manohar added.
According to the press release, the party was in the process of reviewing and working on policies with public consultations ready to be made, when the election was called.
“We denounce transphobia in the strongest possible terms and affirm that it has no place in our party. As socialists, we are committed to equity and to fighting for the rights of people who have been marginalized by mainstream society,” Deanna Drschiwiski policy chair and party spokesperson said.
“We have welcomed the involvement of 2SLGBTQQIA people in the party, many of whom have participated in the policy writing process and hold positions on provincial council.”
“While it’s terrible that this situation has caused harm to the trans community, I think the silver lining is that this is the first election ever where trans issues have been front and center for any party,” Drschiwiski said, while encouraging everyone to read the Ecosocialists gender equity policy for themselves and compare it to those offered by other parties.
“The best possible outcome is one where all the parties take a strong stance against transphobia and gender inequity and specify the changes they would make to improve the lives of 2SLGBTQQIA people across B.C.,” Drschiwiski said.
Manohar said that building an explicitly socialist party is no easy feat, and one too that is run almost entirely by volunteers.
“Horgan’s unnecessary and irresponsible snap election sent us all reeling - in the pressures of rising to the formidable task of fielding a full slate of candidates, we had to stop planning for our membership convention set to take place in November, and rush to finish the work on our policy document and solidify organizational structure,” Manohar said.
“These allegations have taken the wind out of our sails, certainly, but the work we’re doing is vitally important and will continue in the coming months. The party is committed to making the membership convention its next priority after the election.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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