• Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Trans rights activists stage protest in Oxford against feminist academic

The protest centered around a gender-critical feminist academic, Kathleen Stock, whose views have been criticised by opponents who accuse her of transphobia

President of Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society (OULGBTQ) Amiad Haran Diman (2nd R) holds a banner during a Pro-transgender activists march in Oxford, on May 30, 2023, to demonstrate against Britain’s feminist, philosopher and writer Kathleen Stock as she delivers a speech at the Oxford Union Society. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

A university debate in the UK sparked a demonstration on Tuesday (30) as hundreds of transgender rights campaigners voiced their opposition.

The protest centered around a gender-critical feminist academic, Kathleen Stock, whose views have been criticised by opponents who accuse her of transphobia.

Stock asserts that biological sex should take precedence over gender identity.

The demonstration highlights the growing prominence of transgender issues in the UK’s political discourse. It also contributes to the ongoing debate surrounding free speech, particularly within the context of universities.

Stock, a philosophy professor and writer made headlines for her views.

In 2021, Stock resigned from her position at the University of Sussex in southern England due to criticism from colleagues and students regarding her viewpoints.

Although Stock denies accusations of transphobia, campaigners were outraged when she received an invitation to speak at the Oxford Union Society.

The Oxford Union Society is an independent organisation comprising members from Oxford University and was founded in 1823.

But despite its affiliation with the university, the union operates autonomously and has a long-standing tradition of hosting distinguished speakers throughout its history.

Amiad Haran Diman, who chairs the university LGBTQ+ Society said, “We’re standing up to hate and intolerance and a decision by the Oxford Union to amplify them and bring them to Oxford.”

Former Oxford student and current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak also joined the ongoing debate on Tuesday by expressing his opinion to the conservative Daily Telegraph.

Sunak emphasised the necessity of free debate in a free society.

He said, “We should all be encouraged to engage respectfully with the ideas of others. We mustn’t allow a small but vocal few to shut down discussion.

“Kathleen Stock’s invitation to the Oxford Union should stand. Agree or disagree with her, Professor Stock is an important figure in this argument. Students should be allowed to hear and debate her views.”

However, Diman refuted any claims that the demonstration aimed to suppress freedom of speech.

Despite the march involving approximately 200 to 300 participants parading through the streets of Oxford towards the venue, Diman asserted that the purpose of the protest went beyond stifling freedom of expression.

“She (Stock) is everywhere in the media,” they added.

“We’re not protesting her right to speech. We want to make that abundantly clear,” added Zoe-Rose Guy, vice-president of the student society.

“Free speech is free speech. You know, she has the right to say what she wants, but we’re allowed to protest.”

During the protest, the demonstrators chanted slogans like “Trans Power” while displaying signs that conveyed messages such as “Our existence is not up for debate” and “Trans lives matter.”

(AFP)

 

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