FEMINIST activist Julie Bindel says she was ‘moved’ after a talk she was due to give at York University was postponed after an outcry from some students.
The author was invited to speak about feminism and free speech by the Free Speech York Society, but the event was canceled at the last minute after the university said they couldn’t be sure that it could take place safely.
Ms Bindel said on Twitter on Wednesday: ‘I was supposed to speak about feminism and lesbian identity at York University today, but I got twisted because of the LGBTQ+ lot. She added: “Watch this space. I won’t be taking this without protesting.
Ms Bindel is a lifelong activist who has fought for the rights of women and girls and campaigned for victims of male violence against women, but her views on prostitution and transgender politics have sparked controversy.
An open letter from students accused Ms Bindel of holding “biphobic, transphobic and misogynistic” views.
The York Student Solidarity Network has called for Ms Bindel to be platform-less and wants the event, captioned ‘prostitution, porn and political lesbianism’, to be permanently cancelled.
“It’s not about fear of debate, it’s about having zero tolerance for the spread of hateful opinions that put students at risk,” he said in a statement.
Euan Clayton, president of the Free Speech York Society, said on his blog that he was “hopeful” but “not overly optimistic” about the reorganization of the event.
He added: “Julie has made statements deemed to be confrontational and provocative in the past. Statements can be made forcefully, but she has every right to voice those opinions. They are not breaking the hate speech law, being offensive is not a crime.
A University of York spokesperson said: ‘This is not a platform, but not all appropriate practical measures to make an event safe had been put in place for the event to go ahead. takes place at this time – such as stewardship, proper ticketing, event chairing and any necessary security.
“Dissent is a fundamental part of debate and democracy, and we will continue to work with the Students’ Union and its Free Speech Society and others to make the event happen in the future, in full recognition of our responsibility to uphold legal freedom of expression on Campus.”
Patrick O’Donnell, President of York University Students’ Union (YUSU), said: “Student welfare is a priority for YUSU, as is our commitment to protecting the right to freedom of expression within the law.
“The Education Act imposes legal obligations on universities and, by extension, student unions to respect freedom of expression. Although this includes opinions that may shock, offend or disturb, the law is clear, freedom of expression must not be abused for the purposes of hatred or unquestioned bigotry.
“While we will work with the Free Speech Society to support the proposed event to take place in a timely manner in accordance with safety recommendations, students have the right to express their opposition to the views of this speaker or any other speaker. YUSU is absolutely committed to ensuring that those who wish to challenge or demonstrate peacefully are also supported and empowered to do so.