The Labour Party Sexual Harassment Procedure
The Labour Party strives to provide a safe space for people to engage in campaigning and other political activity. The Party has a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and will take all complaints of this nature extremely seriously. If a Labour Party member or a person involved in our activities experiences any behaviour that they feel amounts to sexual harassment towards themselves or anyone else, they are strongly encouraged to report it to us as soon as possible using the dedicated sexual harassment complaints portal.
You can find our full Sexual Harassment Procedure here.
You can find our Code of Conduct: Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination here.
What is sexual harassment?
The Labour Party Code of Conduct: Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination defines sexual harassment as:
“Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It takes place when someone is subjected to unwelcome and unwanted sexual behaviour or other conduct related to their sex.
Harassment is defined by law in the Equality Act 2010 as “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”.
In the case of sexual harassment the relevant protected characteristic is sex.”
The Labour Party recognises that sexual harassment can be experienced by any person alongside other forms of harassment, and that black women, disabled women, lesbian, bisexual and trans women can be specifically targeted for sexual harassment.
The Code of Conduct: Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination explains the kinds of behaviour likely to be regarded as sexual harassment. Under the Equality Act 2010 and the Code of Conduct, behaviour that constitutes sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to:
- Sexual assault or rape;
- Unwelcome or inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature. This may be either physical or verbal and includes unwelcome sexual advances;
- Unwanted physical contact such as hugging, kissing and touching;
- Inappropriate or suggestive remarks or verbal sexual advances;
- Indecent comments, jokes or innuendos relating to a person’s looks or private life or being subjected to sexual jokes or propositions;
- Requests for sexual favours;
- Someone making sexually degrading comments or gestures;
- Your body being stared or leered at;
- Someone displaying sexually explicit pictures in your space or a shared space;
- Offers of rewards in return for sexual favours; and/or
- The display or circulation of pornography or indecent images.
Some of this behaviour may involve sexual violence or abuse amounting to a crime and we will always encourage complainants to contact the police where appropriate. At the other end of the spectrum, the behaviour may offend the person concerned or make them feel uncomfortable, but might be brushed off by the harasser as ‘banter’ or harmless flirting. It is important to remember that the impact the behaviour had on the victim is the most important factor. It is less important whether the perpetrator intended to cause that effect.
Our Sexual Harassment Procedure
The Labour Party Rule Book forms a contract between our members and the Party. The Party’s complaints and disciplinary procedures are designed to determine whether a member has behaved in a way that is contrary to the Party’s rules about conduct, and if so, to ensure that appropriate steps are taken against that member. A range of disciplinary sanctions are available to the Party, and the ultimate sanction that may result from the Sexual Harassment Procedure is that the member complained about is expelled from membership of the Party. The complaints and disciplinary process operates confidentially and in a way that ensures fair treatment of everyone involved. The rules apply equally to every member – whether they are a young person who has just joined the Party, or an experienced member who is an MP or other public figure.
It is important to note that the Labour Party has separate procedures and a Safeguarding Code of Conduct in relation to how it protects children and adults at risk. If you are reporting a safeguarding concern or complaint involving a child or an adult who may meet the definition of an Adult at Risk, you should contact the Labour Party Safeguarding Unit at [email protected] or telephone 0207 783 1134. You can find further information about how we keep children and adults at risk safe at labour.org.uk/safeguarding.
Confidentiality and information security
It is important that disciplinary action taken by the Labour Party pursuant to Chapters 2, 6, 7, 8 and/or 13 of the Labour Party Rule Book is kept confidential by the Labour Party, its members and its officers so as to maintain the integrity of any disciplinary investigations and to preserve any relevant evidence. Therefore, members must keep information, correspondence and Confidential Matters pertaining to individual disciplinary cases private and must avoid disclosing any such information, correspondence or confidential matters to any party, except in certain circumstances, including but not limited to:
- Where disclosure is required by law or by a legal obligation; and
- Where it is necessary for a member who is subject to disciplinary proceedings to make disclosure for the purpose of and in order to obtain legal advice, medical or social support, or support from close family members, trade unions.
Further information on this can be found in the Labour Party’s Code of Conduct on Confidentiality and Privacy.
No member of the Labour Party, and in particular elected members with a public profile, should comment publically or on social media about on-going sexual harassment cases and all members should have due regard to the Labour Party’s Social Media Code of Conduct which states:
“We wish to build a diverse movement that reflects the whole of society, so should always consider how our actions and words may limit the confidence or otherwise exclude either those less knowledgeable than ourselves or those already under-represented in politics.”