Edinburgh University students block lecture hall to stop screening of 'transphobic' film Adult Human Female
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The event planned for Wednesday evening was prevented from going ahead by students who blockaded the doors of an Edinburgh University lecture theatre on George Square. The screening of the documentary, titled ‘Adult Human Female’, has attracted controversy, after the film was criticised for containing "transphobic language” and "spreading misinformation about trans people”. Feminist and LGBTQ+ societies also gathered outside the building in protest.
One attendee who was scheduled to speak after the film, Lisa Mackenzie, wrote on Twitter: “I’ve turned up to the screening of Adult Human Female to participate in the discussion afterwards and a group of students has occupied the lecture theatre in a bid to stop the screening from going ahead.”
While the attendees attempted to switch rooms, the group of protesters moved to block the other lecture theatre. Security eventually asked everyone to leave the building, so the event did not go ahead.
One of the activists, Dylan Hamilton, wrote on Twitter: “Earlier this evening myself and other activists engaged in direct action. A screening of a transphobic film was to be held at Edinburgh Uni, we decided that wasn't happening. You don't get to spread hatred and expect to be unchallenged.” He claims he was shoved, yelled at, and insulted by the crowd who were waiting to see the film.
Reacting to the events, Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry said: “Is this what my country & my alma mater have come to? Entitled students stifling #FreedomofSpeech & silencing women & lesbians who want to talk about their rights? Those who have fostered this authoritarian neo-fascist climate have a lot to answer for.”
Prior to the screening, Edinburgh’s University and College Union wrote to the Principal, Peter Mathieson, describing the film as “a clear attack on trans people's identities” and asking for the event to be cancelled or moved from an official University building. However, their request was denied, as a spokesperson for the University claimed that the event: “As part of our commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom it is our duty to make sure staff and students feel able to discuss controversial topics and that each event allows for debate.
Online ticketing website Eventbrite has since withdrawn its billing for the event, as well as the details of the screening, which was being run by Edinburgh Academics for Academic Freedom (EAAF).
Police officers were called to the demonstration, however, no arrests were made. A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 6.15pm on Wednesday, 14 December, 2022, police were called to a report of a demonstration at George Square, Edinburgh. Officers attended and engaged with those present. There were no arrests.
“Police Scotland is a rights-based organisation that puts our values of integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights at the heart of everything we do. This means that we will protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or counter-protest, balanced against the rights of the wider community.”
The University of Edinburgh has been approached for comment.