Martina Navratilova ‘proud’ patron of new Lesbian Project

Tennis champion Martina Navratilova has spoken of her pride in being part of a new lesbian rights group she described as a “force for good”.

The sporting great is a patron of The Lesbian Project, a recently launched non-profit organization reportedly dedicated to understanding
and improving the lives of lesbians in the UK.

The group was co-founded by Kathleen Stock, a former university lecturer who resigned after being targeted by activists for her views on gender identity, and feminist campaigner and writer Julie Bindel.

There is a need for an organization dedicated to representing the rights and interests of lesbians in the UK, the project states on its website, arguing that lesbians “tend to be grouped into larger sexual minority groups”.

In a statement marking the launch, Navratilova said: “At a time when lesbian rights are being eroded in many countries, I am proud to be a patron of
The Lesbian Project, an organization dedicated to the welfare of the UK
lesbians – a force for good.”

Ms Stock said she feels that lesbians often “fall into different categories” when it comes to research, meaning “we just don’t know much about lesbian life” as she referred to the differences between lesbians and bisexual women, trans women and homosexuals. Gentlemen.

She said she accepted that the project is likely to receive criticism from some quarters, but insisted they are not a “single-issue focus group” on gender identity.

She told BBC Woman’s Hour: “I think there are a lot more issues for lesbians to talk about than just the issue of gender identity.

“It’s true I think lesbians are by definition same-sex attracted women, I just think that’s the category we’re talking about and there are plenty of them so let’s talk about them.

“But there are also other issues, as I just said, about lack of academic research or unfocused academic research, or lack of funding that are not directly related at all to the kind of culture wars around gender identity, although I’m sure we will have a getting quite a bit of criticism from that direction, but that’s not the intention, we’re not coming out as a kind of focus group with one subject.”

She said that lesbians are a group with “special interests and special needs that we are eager to represent and champion”, and argued that there is a separate need for lesbian social spaces.

Professor Kathleen Stock, who was made an OBE for services to Higher Education.  said the project will not be a single-issue group (Victoria Jones/PA)

Professor Kathleen Stock, who was made an OBE for services to Higher Education. said the project will not be a single-issue group (Victoria Jones/PA)

Asked if a trans woman who identified as a lesbian wanted to enter one of their venues or social spaces, she said: “Personally, I would say to that person, ‘God bless you, but this isn’t for you and that’s okay, there is enough room for you, we are lesbians, we have our own night, please just let us have it’.”

Ms Stock said she also accepted there is a “tension between generations”, saying they do not claim to represent all lesbians.

She told the programme: “Of course we fully accept that a lot of lesbians, especially young lesbians, will come out today and say ‘they’re not in front of me’ and that’s fine.

“We’re not even claiming to be for all lesbians. We couldn’t possibly be. They’re a diverse group like any other, but we’re interested in same-sex women, same-sex women only.”

The project’s advisory board includes SNP politician Joanna Cherry, who said she is “delighted” to be a part of it and “extremely pleased” to have Navratilova as a patron.

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