A women’s group has been blocked from holding an event at Christchurch City Libraries to discuss the proposed law changes. Speak Up For Women want to discuss the BDMRR Bill that would let anyone change the sex on their birth certificate by a simple declaration. They are concerned this could be open to abuse, such as male prisoners who could fill out a declaration and then be entitled to be transferred to a women’s prison.
The venue was booked in early May, the group says. Three weeks later, they received an email from Library management saying that the Library was refusing the booking, as “the subject matter of this event may be in conflict with Christchurch City Libraries’ Customer Code of Conduct, particularly our commitment to providing “a safe and welcoming environment.” Below is an email to Lucy, one of the handful of complainants who approached the Council.
Christchurch Council made its decision arbitrarily, without discussing the matter with SUFW.
“Christchurch City Libraries has sent a clear message that their customers can’t talk about legislation or politics here. The people of Christchurch deserve their right to freedom of assembly and speech to be recognised and respected in the libraries that belong to them” Speak Up For Women spokesperson Georgina Blackmore says.
Ms Blackmore says, “Interfering with democracy and thwarting the rights of the people of Christchurch is the real offense happening here. The beliefs of a small handful of people are now held in higher regard than the Bill of Rights. The people of Christchurch should be deeply concerned.”
“We have encountered this kind of thing before, where a few political opponents target a venue to stop us from being able to meet and talk there. We challenge the Library to produce evidence of anything our organisation has said or done that could possibly conflict with their Code of Conduct.
“It is shocking that activists are able to exert such control over central and local government organisations. They mischaracterise us and our reasons for wanting to have these discussions when really we are just women who want to discuss how this Bill would impact women and girls.”