An article published in the Greens' official magazine has been condemned by transgender rights groups, while those on the other side are criticising the party for later taking it down and what they say was a pile-on on to the 80-year-old feminist who wrote it.

The party was thrown into a debate after the editorial board of its publication, Te Awa, included in its latest edition an opinion piece criticising the party's push for transgender rights and saying those who disagreed were being "vilified".

The article, by veteran feminist and Green Party member Jill Abigail, said trans rights were encroaching on women's safe spaces and criticised comments by Green MP Jan Logie that the party was "resisting backlash" against gender-diverse people.

An online furore ensued, with members resigning over what they called transphobic and offensive statements, some describing it as hate speech.


Party co-leader Marama Davidson apologised, saying the article put trans people's right to exist up for debate, as did the magazine's board, removing the piece from its website about a week after it went up.

Others, meanwhile, defended the article and criticised the party for censorship. Abigail told Radio NZ some party members had also quit the party over "anti-women policies".

Now, Speak Up For Women - a group that has campaigned against the inclusion of transwomen in women's sport and called for a halt of laws allowing people to change their gender on birth certificates – has written an open letter to the Greens calling for them to apologise for "defamatory comments and bullying" of Abigail by members.

"The reaction to Jill Abigail's opinion piece has been over the top. For an 80-year-old veteran of feminism and Green politics to be subjected to such vitriol and disrespect is indicative of a culture of intolerance in the party," Speak Up For Women spokesperson Ani O'Brien said.

The group said it supported the article, rejected it had puts trans people's rights to exist up for debate, and that its members included a number of current and former Greens members.

"The party is diverse and a growing number are feeling increasingly more alienated by the ideological positions being taken on gender identity."

But trans-rights support groups says they've been dismayed at the article and condemned it.

AgenderNZ president Tracee Nelle called it "divisive nonsense dressed up as debate" and questioned what rights were being lost.


"How can anyone lose rights when minorities are accorded equality, inclusion, and empowerment? Maybe she is describing loss of privilege?" she said.

"Women, gays, lesbians, people of colour, ethnic minorities have all experienced similar backlash when those in privileged positions feel threatened."

She defended the Green Party's right to remove the article.

"Would anyone expect the Greens to post white supremacist, anti-Semitic, or racist articles in the name of free speech?"

The Green Party would not comment on Sunday, saying it had nothing to add to an earlier statement.

Te Awa is put together by a board of volunteers independent of the party's politicians. In the earlier comment, the Party said:


"We regret that the article was published without a response or right of reply from the affected community, and that our Party policy wasn't made clear.

"The Green Party upholds the value of diversity and inclusion and we want to reassure members of this."

During the online debate, MP Logie took to Facebook to lay out the party's position:

"We have an urgent human rights challenge to realise the rights of trans and non-binary people," she said.

"I don't think it's in any way acceptable to suggest those rights threaten anyone else."