Council axes talk by feminist writer because of her views on trans rights

·3 min read
Julie Bindel said the event would go ahead on the street outside the venue - Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Julie Bindel said the event would go ahead on the street outside the venue - Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Council chiefs cancelled a talk by Julie Bindel, the feminist writer, on protecting women from male violence because it contradicts their position on trans rights.

On Saturday, Nottingham City Council said allowing Ms Bindel to speak at one of its libraries would violate its commitment to being an “inclusive city”.

Citing its allegiance to the campaign group Stonewall, the council said it was preventing the event from going ahead because of Ms Bindel’s views on transgender rights and in support of the city’s LGBT community.

Ms Bindel, a veteran activist who is gay, wrote on Twitter: “I was asked to speak to (predominantly working class/young) women about feminist activism to end male violence in Nottingham. The event was sold out very quickly, and was due to take place at @NottmLibraries.

“Just now, we have been informed that the talk is cancelled. Why? Because misogynistic men’s rights activists (masquerading as supporters of trans rights) have badgered and harassed the venue to the point where they could take no more inconvenience.”

Ms Bindel said the event would go ahead on the street outside the venue.

‘We support our LGBT community’

Cllr Adele Williams, the Nottingham City Council deputy leader, and Cllr Neghat Khan, the portfolio holder for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion, said: “While it was known that the event was going to be from a feminist perspective, no information around the speaker’s views on transgender rights was brought to the Library Service’s attention.

“Once we became aware of this, we took the decision to cancel the booking. Nottingham is an inclusive city, and as a council we support our LGBT community and have committed to supporting trans rights as human rights through Stonewall.

“We did not want the use of one of our library buildings for this event, taking place during Pride month, to be seen as implicit support for views held by the speaker which fly in the face of our position on transgender rights.”

The decision was criticised by the Labour MP Rosie Duffield, who tweeted: “A library banning a woman writer with a history of writing about women’s rights. How very progressive.”

Some have speculated that Nottingham City Council may have acted unlawfully in excluding someone based on their belief.

It comes a year after a ruling that saying trans women are not real women is a belief that “must be tolerated”.

In the case of Maya Forstater, an employment tribunal had ruled that her “gender critical” belief that someone cannot change their sex was so offensive to trans people that it could not be protected under the Equality Act or freedom of speech laws.

But that was then overturned at the Employment Appeals Tribunal, which found the businesswoman’s tweets “may well be profoundly offensive and even distressing to many others, but they are beliefs that are and must be tolerated in a pluralist society”.

Last December, University College London became the first university to cut ties with Stonewall, saying membership of its programmes could inhibit academic freedom of discussion around sex and gender.

However, the charity’s links with many public sector bodies remain strong. This month a whistleblower claimed that an NHS trust, Lewisham and Greenwich, was awarding companies vying for multi-million pound healthcare contracts higher marks in its bidding process if they adopted Stonewall’s stance on trans issues.

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