British trade union and political activists defend women’s right to speak, organise

 

Violence and threats of violence – including common assault, and rape and death threats – against women are standard transactivist behaviour.

The attempts of anti-democratic transactivists to (often violently) disrupt women’s rights organising is largely ignored by those sections of the left most prone to misogyny and authoritarianism in New Zealand.  In Britain, however, scores of trade union and left activists added their names to a letter in July, defending women’s right to organise in opposition to the Tories’ Gender Recognition Act.

The letter was published in left-wing daily paper The Morning Star under the heading “Improving the climate of debate around proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act”.  Signees made it clear that they have “a variety of positions” on the GRA but were calling for “action within our movement to allow debate to take place”. The signees included Len McCluskey, general secretary of the 1.2 million-strong Unite the Union; Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union; Fire Brigade Union official Paul Embery; and Kiri Tunks, vice-president of the National Union of Teachers. It was also signed by Lindsey German, a veteran left activist and a former central leader of the Socialist Workers Party who is now a leading member of Counterfire.

The letter states:

We, the undersigned, have a variety of positions about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act. Some of us have not yet fully formed our opinions.

We are calling for action within our movement to allow debate to take place over proposed changes to the Act.

You may be aware that on April 13 this year, an activist, Tara Wood was convicted of the assault by beating of Maria MacLachlan, a 60-year-old woman who had gathered with others in order to attend a meeting at which they could discuss the potential impact on women and girls of such a change to the law.

On March 8, an incident also occurred on a Bectu picket line in which trans activists, with no connection to the industrial dispute itself, mobbed and verbally attacked a female trade union member on the basis of having recognised her as an attendee at a similar meeting.

And in late April women in Bristol looking to meet and discuss changes to the Gender Recognition Act were met with masked activists blocking entrances to the venue, and deliberately intimidating those wishing to go inside.

More recently, a meeting organised by Woman’s Place UK was targeted with a bomb threat which Hastings Police are investigating as a serious incident.

These cases are part of systematic attempts to shut down meetings organised by women at which they can discuss potential legislative changes and the impact these may have on any sex-based rights already enshrined in law.

They draw the whole of our progressive movement into disrepute.

Some trans rights activists even continue to justify the use of violence, meaning that many women are simply too frightened to attend meetings that are both public and lawful in order that they may discuss their own rights.

Other women, including ordinary women concerned for their rights, as well as those active within the trade union movement and other political campaigns, are also now anxious and fearful that they will be subjected to such attacks when engaging in any political activity, meetings, or protests.

We are sure that, whatever your view regarding the issues around the Gender Recognition Act, you will agree that it is unacceptable for women to be made scared to engage in political life.

We, the undersigned, publicly and unequivocally condemn the use of violence or tactics of intimidation on this issue.

Yours sincerely,
Judith Green
Ruth Serwotka
Kiri Tunks
Lucy Masoud
Karen Ingala Smith
Lindsey German
Paula Lamont
Julie Bindel
Helen Steel
Gill Butler
Mark Serwotka
Mike Clancy
Vicky Knight
Tony Burke
Gail Cartmail
Susan Matthews
Len McCluskey
Sean McGovern
Maggie Ryan
Jane Stewart
Steve Turner
Tony Woodhouse
Philipa Harvey
Sarah Johnson
Dave Harvey
Heather McKenzie
Marilyn Bater
Paul Embery
Jeni Harvey
Julia Bard
Lisa-Marie Taylor
Pilgrim Tucker
Mary Davis
Jane Shallice
Rebecca Lush
Emma Wilkes
Charlie Dacke
Sybil Cock
Gill Parke
Ann Sinnott
Harriet Wistrich
Cllr Julie Davies
Maria MacLachlan
Nic Williams
Debbie Epstein
Kristina Jayne Harrison
Kay Green
Rosie Brocklehurst
Carolyn Thomas
Philippa Clark
Christiane Ohsan
Mary Adossides
Meirian Jump
Miriam David
Trish Lavelle
Megan Dobney
Anita Halpin
Carolyn Jones
Kath Campbell
Rachel Burns
Marj Mayo
Annette Mansell Green
Hilda Palmer
Janet Newsham
Annie Gwilym Walker
Alice Bondi
Helena Coates
Ceri Williams
Debbie Hayton
Gill Knight
Eleanor Hill
Bronwen Davies
Pam Isherwood
Hayley Mullen
Sybil Grundberg
Anne Morch
Jane Galloway
Diane Jones
Karen Broady
Emma Dolan
Jan Pemberton
Beth Aze
Louise Hersee
Naomi Grint
Emma Aynsley
Roy Wilkes
Holly Smith
Marjorie Caw
Catherine Bjarnason
Charlotte Carson
Gerald Clark
Carole Regan
Bernard Regan
John Millington
Therese O’Meara
Amanda MacLean
Gwenan Richards
Jayne Egerton
Kim Thomas
Helen Saxby
Marion L Calder
Gwenda Owen
Hannah Tahir
Kate Graham
Rebecca Heath
Catherine Muller
Radha Burgess
Lisa Bishop
Emma Salmon
Jan Pemberton
Lynne Caffrey
Becky Vaughn
Jan Baxter
Kate Jerrold
Jennifer James
Cllr Amy Brookes
Elizabeth Carola
Marta Garcia de la Vega
Ruth Gordon
Lorraine Roberts
Sona Mahtani
Caroline Spry
Ann McTaggart
Denise Bennett
Cllr Bob Walsh
Sue Lent
Helen Watts
Emma Barraclough
Beth Vennart
Ruth Conlock
Emma Flynn
Cathy Devine
Barbara Hughes
Louise Paine
Prue Plumridge
Sarah Tanburn
Donna Stevenson
Dinah Mulholland
Olivia Palmer
Hannah Laurel
Sandra Easton-Lawrence
Helen Soutar
Paula Dauncey
Tessa McInnes
Lynn Alderson
Abigail Rowland
Christian Stahle
Barbara Brookes
Hilary Adams
Fiona English
Frankie Rickford
Julie Timbrell
Jess Goldie

2 comments

  1. The Victorian Womens Guild had to have police attending and extra security for an event held at Melbourne Uni discussing the changes to the Births Deaths and Marriages Act due to Transactivists. They tried to get the event deplatformed but Melbourne Uni stuck to its just released policy on supporting free academic speech.

  2. There are some rather naive and foolish people on the left who think that going along with misogynist violence puts them on “the right side of history” (!!!) while defending the rights of women, including gender-critical feminists ,to organise free from misogynist violence, and supporting a gender-critical perspective (as in our case), puts us on “the wrong side of history”.

    Well, history is turning out to be a bit more complex than these folks imagine. Surprise! Supporting women’s rights is unlikely to *ever* put us on the wrong side of history, whereas supporting super-narcissistic, violent men claiming to be women is quite likely to get the self-identified leftists who do this well and truly on the wrong side of history.

    It really isn’t rocket science.

    As more people get to know about the New Misogynist Contagion, there are likely to be more and more people speaking out in support of the right of women to organise free from the warped violence and threatening behaviour of these folks.

    It is also encouraging to see the growth of gay and left-wing gender-critical groups. In my view the sooner gay and lesbian activists separate off from the T who have been leeching off the LGB movement the better.

    When the history of this era is written, it will be one of utter shame for those who go along with the no-platforming of feminists and the routine and ritual abuse – including rape threats and death threats – issued against gender-critical feminists. I mean, really, the leftists who go along with this behaviour have got to be the absolute pits.

    Phil F

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