Tens of thousands continued to protest over the weekend in cities all over the world, denouncing the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel a talk at a Nottingham City Council library by feminist campaigner Julie Bindel due to the author’s views on transgender rights. Ms Bindel had been due to speak at Aspley Library about “feminist activism to end male violence in Nottingham” on June 25th.
News of the ruling made headlines across the globe. While the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education praised the Supreme Court’s decision as a challenge to the world to reflect on issues of gender and sexuality, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called it “a huge blow to lesbian rights and freedom of speech.”
The decision led to instant demonstrations across the world, from Sydney to Los Angeles, with more than two dozen gender critical crowdfunding campaigns appearing overnight. Most demonstrations were peaceful, but in Nottingham itself, police fired tear gas from the windows of the Barnardo’s Donation Centre across the street from Aspley Library to disperse hundreds of people, while librarians briefly huddled in a basement, AP reported.
“While it was known that the event was going to be from a feminist perspective, no information around the speaker’s views on transgender rights was brought to the Library Service’s attention,” read the court ruling. “Once we became aware of this, we took the decision to issue a Court Order cancelling the booking.”
Within an hour of the ruling on Friday, the street outside Aspley Library was filled with demonstrators either protesting or celebrating the decision. While trans rights activists were thrilled – many screaming and dancing with joy – critics say the ruling represents one of the most damaging setbacks to the rights of women in world history.
- This article has been amended on 28th June 2022 to include the following picture of J.K. Rowling.