A FEMINIST event at Leeds Civic Hall has today been cancelled by the council at the 11th hour after complaints from campaigners that it was potentially giving a platform to transphobic views.
Members of various women’s groups, headed up by Woman’s Place UK, were due to gather this evening (Friday) from 7pm to debate the implications of the Gender Recognition Act on women’s safety.
The lead organisation says it engages in “respectful and evidence-based discussion about the impact of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act to be allowed to take place and for women’s voices to be heard”.
Organisers say they are especially concerned about safety issues in relation to self identifying transgender women in female prisons - following a recent high profile case - and other traditional “women only” spaces like refuges.
Co-organiser Claire Jones told the YEP their only aim had been to hold a legitimate debate and campaigners have “never done anything in any way discriminatory”.
However objectors labelled the event “anti transgender”, with one commenter telling the YEP that many of the groups involved “have been labelled as inherently transphobic, reactionary and discriminatory; while campaigning and organising under the guise of ‘feminist’ and ‘LGBTQ’, their views remain anathema to the beliefs of the LGBTQ community and its allies”.
Ms Jones called these claims “outrageous” and suggested the council’s actions were hasty, “anti-democratic” and “totalitarian”.
She said people at the event were supporters of the LGBTQ community - and it had been cancelled with no real evidence and only “vague assertions” by objectors.
Some of the 120 women who were due to attend the event are this evening holding a rally outside Leeds Civic Hall in protest.
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “We recently received a request for a meeting to be held at Leeds Civic Hall by Women’s Place UK. Since accepting the booking, we have been made aware of further details regarding some of the views which have been raised by this group previously that are not in line with Leeds City Council’s values and policies on equality and inclusion.
“We understand these views have attracted controversy and led to safety concerns at other venues hosting similar events. We have therefore decided that Leeds Civic Hall is not an appropriate venue for this event and have informed the organisers that their booking has been cancelled.”
The Woman’s Place Uk website says it is asking the Government for “the principle of women-only spaces to be upheld – and where necessary extended”.
It also wants the Government to consult with women’s organisations on how self-declaration would impact on women-only services and spaces.