A controversial demonstration in Leeds has been cancelled as police disperse campaigners

A controversial demonstration planned in Leeds city centre was cancelled today.

By Abbey Maclure
Sunday, 20th September 2020, 4:29 pm
Updated Sunday, 20th September 2020, 4:32 pm

Police were seen at Victoria Square, outside Leeds Art Gallery, at 12.30pm where the Standing for Women event was due to take place.

Standing for Women said the demonstration aimed to "create space for women to speak without fear", protesting against "erasure of female-centric language" and "billionaire technocrats who are always ready to censor women".

The Leeds ReSisters group, which has campaigned against Leeds City Council's Managed Approach (MA) to the city's red light district in Holbeck, was due to join the demonstration.

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An officer told the Yorkshire Evening Post that the demonstration had been dispersed under coronavirus regulations

The event was called off and an officer told the Yorkshire Evening Post that the demonstration had been dispersed under coronavirus regulations.

One Leeds ReSisters campaigner and supporter of Standing for Women, who attended the event, said: "There were less than 30 of us here and we assembled in groups of six. We have published a risk assessment of how we will deal with the risks to public health in any public meeting at the moment.

“I understand the problems with coronavirus, but during lockdown the instances of domestic violence that women suffered increased exponentially in our area.

“It’s absolutely critical that women’s rights are discussed in this climate and the threats to our rights have never been greater.”

The group is campaigning against plans to allow people to change their legal gender by self-identifying as a different sex.

The Government was set to publish the results of the Gender Recognition Act consultation, which was launched in 2018, in July but the report has been delayed.

Organisers said the demonstration was not held online due to social media being "part of the patriarchy" and "women being banned from speaking their truth online".

The Standing for Women supporter added: "We’re absolutely a political organisation and we want to support the rights of women to assemble in public and speak.

“Women are regularly banned from social media for speaking their truth and that’s probably something that somebody would have wanted to speak about today.”

West Yorkshire Police have been contacted for comment by the YEP.

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