Gender equality campaigner defends Freemason membership
Edward Lord defended membership of the Freemasons CREDIT: TWITTER
30 JULY 2018 • 8:03PM
he architect of a gender identity drive who campaigns for transgender rights has been forced to defend their membership of the Freemasons amid accusations of hypocrisy.
Edward Lord chairs the City of London’s establishment committee, which has launched a consultation on ending sex segregation in its women-only spaces such as public lavatories and changing facilities at well-known landmarks including Hampstead Heath ponds, the Barbican arts centre, Tower Bridge and the Museum of London.
A Twitter row erupted yesterday as it emerged that Lord, who identifies as non-binary and asks to be described by the pronoun “they,” is a Freemason, an institution that has famously refuses to allow women to join its men-only lodges.
Critics noted that Lord had previously suggested that gender identity was “of complete irrelevance biologically” yet membership of a male-only organisation said otherwise.
One said: “So does this mean you will be campaigning to allow women into the males lodges of the Freemasons as well. You know what with all spaces becoming mixed and all?”
Lord retaliated: “I take the view that I can best influence change from within,” posting a Freemasons statement that says transmen are welcome to join and trans women can remain members.
<img class=”responsive article-body-image-image” src=”/content/dam/news/2018/07/30/TELEMMGLPICT000170619759_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqZKyQjgD8Df2cArqp0xOfDJ3G-oMqd7JJS4_RoPtsL1M.jpeg?imwidth=480″ alt=”Edward Lord”>
Edward Lord CREDIT: TWITTER
Asked about the alleged hypocrisy, Lord admitted to the Telegraph: “It is something I continue to struggle with and continue to think about.
“If it was entirely up to me I would change things, but you have to take 250,000 members with you.
“I’ve spoken fairly freely on this subject and the fact that Freemasons could be more welcoming and inclusive The one area I would change is on gender.”
Helen Lewis, associate editor of the New Statesman, told him: “I’m afraid I find it very hard to square your continued participation in the Masons with a genuine desire to smash patriarchy.
“I don’t have the luxury of trying to effect change from within… because I am not allowed in. You can see why that rankles?”
Lord replied: “Of course, I completely get it. That’s why my preference would be that membership of Freemasonry wouldn’t be restricted on gender/sex, but we will never get to that point unless some people inside the organisation say ‘hey this doesn’t make sense, why don’t we change’.”
The current law stipulates that transgender people do have a “protected characteristic” under English law and therefore access to any single sex space.
Those who identity as the opposite sex but have not yet transitioned do not have the same rights but proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act would change that.