The Independent London Newspaper
23rd November 2014

Letters

Fury as Irish Centre cancels 'radical' feminists’ conference booking amid fears over safety

    The London Irish Centre was to be the venue for a RadFem conference

    Published: 1 May, 2013
    by PAVAN AMARA

    A COMMUNITY centre has abandoned plans to host a controversial “radical feminism” conference amid fears for public ­safety.

    The London Irish Centre, in Camden Town, said it did not have the “manpower” to deal with the RadFem conference after receiving threatening phone calls over its initial decision to accept the booking. It has contacted police and warned activists not to turn up in June.

    There have been angry debates online about the nature of the conference, the tone of which has raised alarm. 

    While RadFem campaigners insist it should go ahead at the Camden Square building, demonstrators, including those who label themselves "men’s rights activists”, say the conference must be stopped. 

    In one of the more bizarre points of debate, some men’s rights activists claim RadFem wants to reduce the male population of the United Kingdom to just 10 per cent.

    A small number of protesters from both sides of the debate have visited the building in recent days, leaving staff feeling alarmed.

    There have been vociferous debates about RadFem’s decisions not to allow transgender women into their groups, with some members claiming they are men trying to infiltrate their work. The centre said it could not risk being unable to “safeguard the area” around Camden Square.

    The centre’s decision follows a controversy at Conway Hall, in Holborn, last year when a booking for the conference was torn up because of “issues around discrimination and equality legislation”.

    RadFem has now asked Camden Council to allow it to host the conference at the Camden Centre.

    The London Irish Centre is available to hire by a variety of groups and is sometimes used for parties and boxing matches. The Labour Party booked it ahead of the 2010 election campaign to launch its manifesto. 

    The centre’s commercial manager, Neil Preston, said: “We are not equipped to deal with this. We do not have the time, staff or manpower. We have released the [RadFem] booking. 

    “We thought this decision through very carefully. We didn’t decide on the grounds that anyone was being discriminated against. It’s more because it would have taken us a lot of time to handle the phone calls we were receiving and the protests. 

    “We need to safeguard individuals in the area, so we called police and referred RadFem to app­roach the council. 

    “The council are reviewing it, and police are investigating individuals from different groups as there were incidents of violence.”

    While a council spokesman confirmed an application to use the Camden Centre had been received, a statement on the RadFem 2013 website said the group was still insisting on using the Irish Centre. Nobody from the group could be reached for comment, despite several emails and phone calls.

    Its statement said the Irish Centre had succumbed to “bullying from men’s rights advocates”.

    It added: “The London Irish Centre may be unlawfully and unjustifiably considering cancelling our booking but this will not stop us from holding our event and standing our ground. We do not accept the centre’s unjustifiable rejection of our booking. We have done nothing wrong. We will have our conference. It will be at the London Irish Centre from the 8th-9th of June.”

    Mr Preston emphasised the booking was no longer scheduled in the centre’s diary and any problems would be met with “a phone call to police”.

    The Camden LGBT Forum, which has worked in the area for 12 years, said that while “men’s rights activists had hijacked this as their victory, a majority of the lobbyists were trans-women”.

    Nigel Harris, the forum’s director, said: “It’s not inclusive for any conference to ban a woman for women simply because they have decided she’s not their type of woman. 

    “Their opinion is that trans-women are men attempting to infiltrate feminism, which is ridiculous and hurtful. I’m not saying there should be a blanket ban on RadFem but Camden is the wrong borough for it considering the large trans population we have.”

    He added: “Who knows the real reason the centre decided to cancel. Although they may have said it happened on the grounds of hassle, perhaps they also looked into what RadFem were saying. Last year’s speakers included people who had outed trans-women on the internet.”

    A spokesman for the council said any bookings that could lead to protests would see the Met Police informed, but at this stage only an application had been received. He said: “Our ability to manage the event safely will be a primary concern. A decision will be taken in due course.” 

     

    Comments

    The proof.

    There are two ways to see who is right about RadFem. One is simply to have a look at their own Twitter feed which talks quite openly about mass extermination and 'disposing of' transsexual people. They hardly ever use the word 'kill' but then Hitler never mentioned killing Jews in a public speech. These things are easier to swallow with a little vagueness.

    The second way is to consider the threats they are making right now- in public- against the centre. They claim they will hold the event their despite no longer being welcome. What can this possibly mean if it is not a threat to break in?

    Ask yourself what would happen if a neo Nazi group were to do the same to Jews?

    Rejecthing a hate movement

    Feminism is a hate movement, and radfems are the most hateful of all. Many of them openly preach genocide, in the form of eliminating men.

    I'm not surprised they find it difficult to get a platform.

    A lot of heresay

    If the threats were indeed real I hope that whoever sent them is found and punished appropriately. Having said that, I believe the story that the London Irish Center has put out. It was cancelled because the convention would violate UK charity laws and they don't want to give up their status.

    I've yet to see any concrete evidence that MRA groups made threats other than the claims made by some of the organizers which unfortunately is confirmation bias, not evidence. It's equally likely to have been any unaffiliated, unstable individual who simply didn't like them and instead of protesting peacefully, decided to harass them.

    For what it's worth, I believe it's counterintuitive to shut down discourse, even that coming from a group of people that society disagrees with. It does noone any favors by abridging the right of others to voice their opinions merely because the opinion is dislikeable.

    Think of it this way too. How else would we spot the crazies if we don't allow them to have a voice. For the same reason we let the EDL, radical islamists, and racists say what they want. If Radical Feminists wants to talk about selectively aborting the male population and instituting male population reduction policies I say let everyone hear and decide for themselves what to think.

    Science

    There are both MRA's and Radfems in these comments.

    You can tell the difference because the MRA's are overly polite while the Radfems literally cannot post without saying something transphobic and/or homophobic, which is frightening, it reminds me of how the KKK cannot speak publicly without frequent use of racial slurs.

    Although I am under the impression that protests from the transgendered did most of the legwork to having the Radfems barred, it seems like the Radfem's extreme reactionary scapegoating and hyperbole of the MRA's and their "horribly violent" pamphlets is what ultimately led to MRA's taking credit.

    Which is unfortunate, I think LGBT deserves more credit, there is now one less hate group with a public venue to oppress them.

    Oppressed?

    Radfem claims they're oppressed, but if you can afford to travel halfway around the world to attend a hatefest like RadFem 2013, then you aren't oppressed.

    Freedom of speech and assembly wil carry the day

    I trust that the women who wish to hold this conference will manage to do so despite attempts to silence them, by men's rightists in pants or dresses, and some pitiful cowards' responses to these pressure tactics.

    Transphobia

    The transphobic views of RadFems and of some of these comments is completely offensive and ridiculous. Transwomen aren't 'men who like to wear dresses'. They are women. They experience sexism, oppression, are affected by the patriarchy as much as anyone else. Don't lower yourself to the transphobia of this group of radfems. Respect individuals identities.

    Reason

    This issue is inflamed by extremes from both sides of the argument - those who call trans-women 'men in drag' and those who threaten radical feminists with rape and death. The majority of people support trans-only, women born women only, and mixed groups.
    The sad result is that further division harms the causes common to both groups.

    Ah, some 'separate but equal'

    Ah, some 'separate but equal' rhetoric. That worked so well with the Jim Crow laws in the United States, didn't it?

    Sorry, not everyone thinks Transpeople should have to sit at the back of the bus.

    Radical feminism

    Excellent.

    RADFem needs to have every venue the go to cancelled.

    I can't believe people even ACCEPT their application. This is RADICAL feminism.
    Feminism in and of itself is bad enough, making it radical is a recipe for an explosion.

    This is a hate-group. Do not give hate a voice.

    nothing wrong with feminism.

    nothing wrong with feminism. radical feminism is the problem. these fringe nuts are just a hate group

    the problem with feminism is

    the problem with feminism is when it claims to be the definition of equality but pays special and exclusive attention to the rights of women and titles itself in the same manner. wake up, feminism is evil.

    This piece seems a tiny bit

    This piece seems a tiny bit biased...

    Agreed

    Agreed

    Cancellation of Booking

    Nigel Harris is speaking on behalf of women who are born women how would he know what it is like to female identify? who is Nigel Harris to decide? Another old institutionalized dinosaur making statements on behalf of men because its not the current medical establishment.

    As for quoting the insanities around culling men is the writer serious? Or does this make good journalism to quote such rubbish.

    Everyone should just take a step back and take a good reality check!

    Everytime radical feminist women wish to self organise and meet up they appear to be smeared, ridiculed, threatened alongside their venue bookers because their so called (unknown) views are part of the public domain as 'facts' well before the conference debates.

    Why can't women born women discuss gender theories by themselves? They have done so for centuries why do some men find this abominable? Its not as if the patriarchy will be smashed without them!

    This is a private event and many women have paid to participate from all over the world. Whose academic platform is this a threat to over here in the UK I wonder.

    Dave

    "In one of the more bizarre points of debate, some men’s rights activists claim RadFem wants to reduce the male population of the United Kingdom to just 10 per cent." Bizarre and completely true in the case of a number of the attendees. 

    Whether you perceive it to be

    Whether you perceive it to be true or not, having that opinion is not a crime. I do not share such radical feminist views, but we are all entitled to an opinion. You've just expressed yours. I'm not aware of them committing any crimes. And when certain groups of men state that only those women who look like a page 3 model should exist, for example, it's all laughed off as a jolly good jape.

    entitled to our opinion

    so Hitler, Himmler, misogynists, Homophobes etc are all entitled to their opinions are they ?

    Trybrow

    so how will you go about un-entitling people from their opinion then?... i'd LOVE to know....

    I think it is pretty clear

    I think it is pretty clear that the actions of those who were not in agreement with the event are the reason why this event has been cancelled from the venue, not any actions or intent from the organisers.

    "We thought this decision through very carefully. We didn’t decide on the grounds that anyone was being discriminated against. It’s more because it would have taken us a lot of time to handle the phone calls we were receiving and the protests.
    “We need to safeguard individuals in the area, so we called police and referred RadFem to app­roach the council.
    “The council are reviewing it, and police are investigating individuals from different groups as there were incidents of violence.”

    Trybrow

    I think its pretty clear the organisers are LIARS and when the hosts found out that they were hateful liars, they cancelled the event. ''A spokesman for the Met, which had looked into the incident, said there had been no evidence of harassment.''

    Feminism the hate group

    What is sad is that this hateful group of people were rejected from london center because they were exposed as being a bunch of sexist women who fantasize about chopping off boys di--s and throwing them out a window "without opening it first" as well as male genocide.

    They were exposed by a mens rights website - A voice for men - as being hateful shi** and now they are angry because they, a hate group, are not welcome anywhere. Pathetic feminists

    Everyone hates these people, even most feminists.

    These radical "feminists" are not accepted by the wider feminist movement. They are bigots, and transphobes, and extremely nasty people.

    Here are some quotes from them:

    http://theterfs.com/2013/03/02/terf-quotes/

    I would urge ANYONE with a sense of decency to oppose their "conference".

    MRA London

    This is Men's Rights Activists London here: www.mralondon.org

    To clarify a couple of points. We approached the London Irish Centre expressing our concerns by email, and peacefully distributing leaflets. That is all. We respect the right to free speech and do not object to RadFem 2013 hosting a conference. However, we do not believe the London Irish Centre is an appropriate venue due to its history of providing services to Irish working men and women, who historically have been amongst the most exploited and vulnerable in society.

    There have been no 'threats' and no 'violence' from our group at all. None. The London Irish Centre has not said there has either. On the contrary, we have had perfectly civil and polite discussions with the centre's director and staff.

    It is worth pointing out that several of our members are gay and lesbian, and we have members from all ethnic groups and both men and women. MRA London has no political position, and is entirely inclusive and respectful of the human worth and value of everyone in society. Our only goal is equality.

    Don't you think that it is up

    Don't you think that it is up to the venue to decide who they accept for bookings. Your thinly veiled attempt to appear to have only the Irish Centre's interests at heart is just that - and very patronising.

    "We did some research into

    "We did some research into RadFem and discovered certain language was used and some statements were made about transgender people that would go against our equalities and diversity policy."

    That was the reason given -- not safety, not manpower. The nature of the group is not in keeping with their diversity policies.

    wha?

    'Who knows the real reason the centre decided to cancel.'

    Everyone knows because they said it was due to threats of male violence from men's rights groups and mentally ill men who like to wear dresses.

    Uuuuuh huh.

    Bigoted much?

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