Trans rights activists block lecture hall to stop screening of film

The screening of Adult Human Female did not go ahead after students occupied the venue.

Edinburgh University students and trans rights activists stop screening of Adult Human Female documentary PA Media

Students at the University of Edinburgh blocked a lecture hall preventing the screening of a film about sex based rights they claimed is “transphobic”.

Adult Human Female, a documentary, features interviews with women regarding their rights and opposition to what it calls “gender ideology”.

A description of the film describes it as dealing with the “manufactured confusion around sex and gender”.

The screening attracted controversy after it was accused of “broadcasting hate”.

An initial November viewing at the university, hosted by Edinburgh Academics for Academic Freedom society, was cancelled following backlash.

On Wednesday evening, a group of students and activists with the Staff-Student Solidarity Network (SSSN) blockaded the lecture hall where the rescheduled screening was due to take place.

As attendees attempted to switch rooms, the group of protesters moved to block the other lecture theatre.

University security eventually had to ask everyone to leave the building, and the event was cancelled.

One of the protesters, Dylan Hamilton, claimed that he had been shoved, yelled at and insulted by the crowd waiting to see the film after the group occupied the lecture theatre.

He wrote on Twitter: “Earlier this evening myself and other activists engaged in direct action.

“A screening of a transphobic film was to be held at Edinburgh Uni, we decided that wasn’t happening. You don’t get to spread hatred and expect to be unchallenged.”

Journalist Susan Dalgety who had attended to watch the documentary responded on Twitter: “Dylan there, over-excited because he and his mates stopped a group of (mostly) women meeting to watch a film then discuss it.”

Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry wrote: “Is this what my country & my alma mater have come to?

“Entitled students stifling freedom of speech and silencing women and lesbians who want to talk about their rights?

“Those who have fostered this authoritarian neo-fascist climate have a lot to answer for.”

The university upheld the right of Edinburgh Academics for Academic Freedom to host the screening unperturbed, saying “we stand by our decision”.

In a statement, the University of Edinburgh said: “As part of our commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom, it is our duty to make sure staff and students feel able to discuss controversial topics and that each event allows for debate.

“In line with our commitment to fostering an inclusive, supportive and safe environment for our whole community, we put measures in place to mitigate any risks associated with the event.

“However, when it became clear that safety could no longer be guaranteed for all present it was decided that the event should not continue.

“Given the size of our community, it is inevitable that the ideas of different members will conflict.

“We always encourage respectful debate and discussion whenever there are differences of view or opinion and ensure that attendees of all events are aware of, and comply with, the University’s Dignity and Respect Policy, so that those wanting to attend feel able to contribute.”

It comes two days after a legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s definition of a woman in law was thrown out.

Campaign group For Women Scotland complained a bill aiming to balance gender representation on public boards included trans people under the definition.

But on Tuesday, Judge Lady Haldane said that the definition of “‘sex’ is not limited to biological or birth sex”, in the context of the bill.

Next week, reforms in Scotland are set to make it easier for people to legally change their gender.

The change in legislation would mean people applying for a gender recognition certificate would no longer need a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

The Bill also drops the minimum age for applications from 18 to 16 and decreases the level of time needed to live in one’s acquired gender from two years to three months with a further three-month reflection period.

The Scottish Conservatives have called for an emergency meeting to discuss the reforms which they said raised concerns about the impact on the safety of women and girls.

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