The row continues over the cancellation last week of a high profile feminism event at Leeds Civic Hall following complaints that it was giving a platform for transphobic views.
By Chris Nicholls
The event hosted by Woman’s Place UK was to discuss transgender issues. But it emerged that some participants may hold transphobic views and the event was called off with just hours to spare.
Comments flooded social media after leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake released a statement revealing the council had “been made aware of further details regarding some of the views which have been raised by this group previously, which are not in line with Leeds City Council’s values on gender and equality.”
“Leeds Council needs to be sued for this,” said Kelvin Art on Facebook. “They have breached the Human Rights Act 1999, section six and Articles 10 and 11.”
Woman’s Place UK have faced several accusations of transphobic behaviour in the past. A protest was held outside a museum in Cardiff earlier this year prior to a meeting regarding gender recognition.
Woman’s Place UK’s campaigned for “respectful and evidence-based discussion” before being able to legally change gender in new changes to the Gender Recognition Act.
Becky Stubbs, Communications and Marketing assistant at the council told Leeds Hacks Woman’s Place UK “had purposely kept the venue secret until the day due to safety and security concerns” following previous controversy at other venues, including “previous bomb threats they had received which reinforced the need for a full and proper risk and security assessment.”
Feminism supporters expressed dismay online. Jonathan Best said on Facebook: “Women organised to meet and discuss the impact of GRA (Gender Recognition Act) reform have been subjected to repeated harassment and silencing”, suggesting groups like Women’s Place UK have been “demonised”.
Woman’s Place UK tweeted: “It is a democratic right of women in this country to meet and speak and organise for their rights. Our foresistsers fought and died for these rights. We won’t be giving them up.”
On Facebook, NHS doctor Adrian Harrop disagreed. “There’s no reason for private companies or local government to accommodate or provide services to a group that is recognised as hateful and transphobic.”
The council stressed the importance of public safety, admitting: “When we became aware of the actual purpose of the event just hours before it was due to take place, we considered it entirely appropriate to cancel this event due to there being no time to properly assess.”
The views of people in Leeds today.
“Leeds is showing itself to be the most misogynist City in the UK and right now I’m ashamed of it,” said Pam Bircumshaw, on Facebook.
When Leeds Hacks asked the council for response to complaints from the public, it said: “We are fully committed to creating an environment for all citizens of Leeds, particularly one that promotes dignity and respect for all.”