Code of Conduct: Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination
All codes of conduct and NEC statements form part of the agreed relationship between individual Labour Party members, and set the minimum code of conduct expected by the Party of all its members.
The Labour Party strongly believes that no one should feel disadvantaged, discriminated against or harassed due to their sex or gender either inside the party or in the wider society. The Labour Party will create an environment that is overtly hostile to sexual harassment and gender discrimination. The Labour Party recognises that sexual harassment can be experienced alongside other forms of harassment, and that black women, disabled women, lesbian, bisexual and trans women can be specifically targeted for sexual harassment.
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 following list provides examples of some of the kinds of behaviour likely to be regarded as sexual harassment (this list is not exhaustive).
a. Sexual assault or rape;
b. Unwelcome or inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature. This may be either physical or verbal and includes unwelcome sexual advances;
c. Unwanted physical contact such as hugging, kissing and touching;
d.Inappropriate or suggestive remarks or verbal sexual advances;
e. Indecent comments, jokes or innuendos relating to a person’s looks or private life or being subjected to sexual jokes or propositions;
f. Requests for sexual favours;
g. Someone making sexually degrading comments or gestures;
h. Your body being stared or leered at;
i. Someone displaying sexually explicit pictures in your space or a shared space;
j. Offers of rewards in return for sexual favours;
k. 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.
Third party sexual harassment
Third party sexual harassment is a form of harassment that is carried out by someone who isn’t employed by the Labour Party but whom staff may come into contact with at work. This could include elected members such as Members of Parliament, Members of the Scottish or Welsh Parliaments and could include members of the Party, contractors or members of other stakeholder groups such as the Unions.
The Labour Party will take allegations of third party sexual harassment extremely seriously. Where a complaint of third party harassment is received the Labour Party will undertake an investigation of any member of the party or member of staff. Where the individual is a member or employee of another organisation the Labour Party will share information about the complaint where possible, and in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR, to ensure an investigation into the complaint is carried out. The Party will encourage and support complainants to report their complaint directly to other organisations or the relevant governing body where appropriate.
Every person has the right to report sexual harassment and have their complaint investigated. It is vital that the Labour Party provides an opportunity for cases of sexual harassment to be investigated and heard in a way that is fair to both the complainant and respondent. Sometimes a person accused of harassment retaliates by further harassing or bullying the person who has lodged a complaint and this is called victimisation.
Victimisation is unacceptable and complaints of victimisation will be investigated in accordance with the party’s rulebook and with particular reference to section 2.1.8:
“No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC and NCC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party.”
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:
a. Where disclosure is required by law or by a legal obligation; and
b. 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.”
You can download the full Labour Party rule book – which contains all of Labour’s codes of conduct – below.