THE rift in Labour over transgender rights has widened further with Sir Keir Starmer stating he “does not agree” with the Scottish party over the issue.

Anas Sarwar has also been urged by opposition parties to “break his deafening silence” and clarify whether he still supports the SNP’s gender self-ID policy after the “screeching U-turn” by the UK Labour party.

In a reversal of a previous commitment, Labour announced it will not support self-identification for trans people if it wins the next General Election.

Scottish Labour, which voted in favour of the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) bill, has moved to distance itself from this stance.

READ MORE: Ex-Better Together chief Blair McDougall in running to be Labour MP

Speaking during a phone-in on BBC Radio 5 Live, Starmer said that “we don’t think that self-identification is the right way forward” after “reflecting on what happened in Scotland”.

And when asked about Scottish Labour continuing to back de-medicalisation of the process, Starmer responded: “Yeah we don’t agree. We don’t think self-identification is the right way forward, we have reflected on what happened in Scotland.”

He went on: “So we’ve set out that we want to modernise the process, get rid of some of the indignities in the process, keep it a medical process.

“And we’ve always said, I’ve continued to say, and Sunday, when we completed our policy forum, allowed us to be clear that there should be safe places, safe spaces, for women, particularly in relation to violence against women and girls.”

Starmer was then quizzed on whether this stemmed from concerns that women are “likely to be disproportionately violent”.

“No, it’s more that biological women who have been subject to violence, women and girls, want a safe space where they can feel that they are properly supported and protected and this comes from the tales of survivors,” he said.

The Labour leader also said he did not think there were many cases of Isla Bryson – the rapist who sparked a row about where transgender prisoners should be held – but added: “I do think the principle of safe space is very important for women”.

Scottish Labour said earlier this week that it remains committed to the “de-medicalisation” of the process for trans people to obtain legal recognition in their preferred gender.

Paul O’Kane, the party’s social justice spokesman at Holyrood, said: “Labour is committed to modernising and reforming the outdated and intrusive Gender Recognition Act, as well as ensuring exemptions in the Equality Act are upheld.

“Scottish Labour continues to support the de-medicalisation of the process in Scotland.”

READ MORE: George Foulkes: 'UK is not a Union of equals and never was'

But Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher said: “In the wake of UK Labour’s apparent screeching U-turn on gender self-ID policy, voters in Scotland are entitled to know if Anas Sarwar still supports the SNP’s reckless GRR Bill.

“Some Labour MSPs have doubled down on their support for it in response to Anneliese Dodds’ article, but there has been a deafening silence from their leader.

“Anas Sarwar blithely ignored the concerns of many that the bill would put women’s safety at risk when he forced his MSPs to vote for it – concerns that were soon vindicated by the Isla Bryson case.”

Gallacher said UK Labour seemed to accept they have got this policy “badly wrong” and had written to Sarwar to ask if he is “willing to admit the same”.

However the Scottish Greens have warned Sarwar’s party must not “throw trans rights under the bus” as part of Labour’s campaign to reach Downing Street.

Maggie Chapman, the party’s equality spokesperson, said: “Gender Recognition Reform was supported by the overwhelming majority of the Scottish Parliament, including most Labour MSPs. Self-identification is used around the world. To see Labour backtracking on it is very concerning and disappointing.

“And let us remember that the legislation passed in Scotland was about making the administrative process of getting a Gender Recognition Certificate that would allow the change of sex on a trans person’s birth certificate easier.

“It was not about medical transition or any other intervention. Such an administrative process must not continue to be medicalised.

“Ian Murray and Anas Sarwar must make clear exactly where they stand on the use of the anti-democratic Section 35 Order and on self-identification. Trans rights cannot be thrown under the bus as part of an internal Labour power struggle.”