Women’s rights rally targeted
PRESS RELEASE – issued 11th March 2020
London: Masked protestors let off flares and intimidate attendees
A women’s rights rally, held at a venue adjacent to the Grenfell Tower Memorial Wall, has been disrupted by masked protestors who let off flares.
Attendees thought that smoke bombs had been thrown and said a strong smell of smoke distressed people – particularly given the location of the venue. Placards reading ‘Fuck Terfs’, a man with a flashing dummy penis, chanting, and photographing women attending the event were also among protestors’ other tactics.
The #ExpelMe rally (on Mon 9th March) was organised by supporters of the Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD) and held in support of Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) and the LGB Alliance.
Speakers included former firefighter Lucy Masoud, lesbian campaigner Bev Jackson, trans woman Debbie Hayton, a teacher, physicist and campaigner for women’s sex-based rights; veteran journalist and campaigner Julie Bindel and former policy adviser to Jeremy Corbyn and the Shadow Cabinet, Lachlan Stuart. Oxford Professor Selina Todd, also spoke having been invited in light of her ‘no-platforming’ at an event celebrating 50 years since the first Women’s Liberation Conference.
The sold-out rally was attended by around 300 people and was a response to some of the Labour leadership and deputy leadership contenders signing the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights’ pledge last month. One of the twelve points of the pledge labelled WPUK and the LGB Alliance ‘hate groups’; another called on the Labour Party to expel anyone who supports women’s sex-based rights.
“The #ExpelMe rally essentially spoke for the thousands of signatories of the Labour Women’s Declaration,” said LWD spokeswoman Bronwen Davies.
“We have huge, but often hidden, support within the Labour Party not only from those who have signed the Declaration but those who are too scared to put their names to it. The comments accompanying the Declaration (on the iPetitions site) tell a story in their own right.”
The rally endorsed four demands of the Labour Party and its leadership contenders:
● That Labour guarantee the single-sex exemptions as per their manifesto commitment.
● That Labour ensure women members are free to discuss everything which affects them as a sex class, including sex self-identification.
● That the Labour Party leader candidates and deputy candidates remove their names from the Trans pledge.
● That the Labour Party and leadership and deputy leader candidates acknowledge publicly that WPUK and LGB Alliance are not hate groups.
“The Labour Women’s Declaration has more than 4,500 signatories – and is growing daily. Many of them are Labour stalwarts including constituency chairs, women’s officers, councillors and MSPs,”said Ms Davies.
“Yet not a single Labour MP or official has replied to our many messages, some dating back to before the General Election, asking for meetings. The candidates have, however, seen fit to sign pledges from a tiny fringe group without hesitation, even though some now claim not to agree with all of it. It is now time they met and talked with us.”
Police were also present at the rally and their help was needed to escort people safely from the venue afterwards, because of the confrontational nature of the protestors. The organisers of the protest – calling themselves ‘London Bi-Pandas’ – later apologised for setting off the flares.
Bronwen Davies added: “The nature of the protest against the rally underlines one of the Declaration’s core demands – that women are permitted to meet and discuss matters concerning our sex-based rights, without fear of intimidation, harassment or bullying.”