THE Brighton and Hove Green Party has been accused of proposing “unacceptable levels of gender discrimination against males” by its own party.
Concerns were raised after members voted to support an amendment by Councillor Alex Phillips that would change how the party selected candidates and discriminate in favour of women.
Under the proposals women would challenge at least two seats in a three candidate ward and one in a single seat ward.
The result would mean that at least 61% of Green party candidates in Brighton and Hove’s 21 wards would be female while male candidates would make up no more than 39%.
But the party’s regional council has rejected the changes, claiming they go against the national constitution and founding beliefs of the Green Party.
In a response to members, Mike Shone and Freda Davis, co-chairmen of the Green Party Regional Council (GPRC), warned the plans would be in breach of clause PB303 of the party, which states no one should be discriminated against for any reason.
They added: “Your proposals, if carried out, would result in unacceptable levels of gender discrimination against males. GPRC, thus, cannot approve them. And since GPRC has the constitutional responsibility for democratic procedures in the Green Party of England and Wales, any selection of council candidates carried out under these proposals would be invalid.”
Party sources have claimed the dispute is holding up its ability to choose candidates ahead of next year’s local elections because people are still unsure how they will be chosen.
Coun Phillips, who proposed the amendment at an Extraordinary General Meeting in April, said the plans would discriminate against men but the current system already discriminated against women.
She said: “The Greens locally don’t do well in female representation, we’re overwhelmingly male.
“We’ve always had a male leader, all of our committee chairs who have responsibility for budget, they’re all men bar one so it’s about balancing that.”
Lisa Murray, Brighton and Hove Green Party chairwoman, said: “We are looking at implementing policies to increase female representation in the city and it is true that we’ve had conversations with a number of national party bodies about that, which is perfectly natural when making changes to key party policies.”
The Green Party’s leader Natalie Bennett was not available for comment.