Another week, another successful legal challenge — and another dent in the armour of extreme transgender ideology. This time, the weapon was a case against Nottingham City Council (NCC), who I threatened to sue for de-platforming me from one of its public libraries.
This summer, I had been asked to speak about male violence towards women at a library in Nottingham, in a working-class area, similar to where I had grown up. The talk sold out with mainly young, working-class women planning to attend. But while I was on the train up to the event, I was told it had been cancelled. In fact, it was made clear that I and the organisers would be forcibly removed if we entered the library.
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I don’t need a room to make my point, and so in the spirit of feminist resistance, I made it in the library’s car park. Many brave women were there, as well as the predictable group of trans activists. They rocked up, making a show of themselves by playing loud music, shouting slogans and, during my talk, one man pushed right up close to me — close enough to touch — in an attempt to distract me. It didn’t work.
The same day, NCC released a statement: “Nottingham is an inclusive city and as a council we will support our LGBT community and have committed to supporting trans rights as human rights through Stonewall. We did not want the use of one of our library buildings for this event, taking place during Pride month, to be seen as implicit support for the views held by the speaker which fly in the face of our position on transgender rights.”
I have been an out and proud lesbian since the age of 15, and have campaigned against anti-gay bigotry for decades. So the statement was incredibly insulting, if not entirely surprising. In recent years, the “holy month of Pride” seems to be focused only on trans issues, with lesbians so far down the pecking order we feel distinctly unwelcome.
I think something is starting to shift though. As I was speaking to this angry and vibrant crowd of women, messages of support began to flood in, including offers from lawyers to represent me if I wanted to sue. Since I am now so thoroughly sick of being called a fascist and nazi, i decided to go for it.
A few days after the carpark debacle, an email was forwarded to me from Cllr Rosemary Healy in response to a complaint about the cancellation:
“We cannot grant a platform to a public figure who has repeatedly expressed transphobic views. Not only are Ms Bindel’s past statements incredibly hateful to the trans community; she has also demonstrated homophobic and biphobic views in the past that we take issue with.”
Her clarification was helpful. In cancelling me in the way and for the reasons that they did, NCC was in breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010. It was also in breach of the substantive duties under the Equality Act applying to the Council in its exercise of public functions and as a service provider, for which the Council is susceptible to judicial review.
My very presence at the library, regardless of the subject of my talk, was deemed dangerous and traumatising. As such, my legal team cited the ruling in Forstater v Centre for Global Development Europe, the case in which Maya Forstater successfully sued her employers for pushing her out of her consultancy role because of allegations of transphobia by colleagues.
Initially, NCC refused to admit that I was covered by the same protection as Forstater: “The Tribunal held that Ms Forstater’s views were consistent with the law [but] the same cannot be said of the views as to trans people expressed by the Claimant. There is no evidence that the Claimant’s views are widely-shared, and certainly not among respected academics. Indeed, the Claimant’s views are often deprecated.”
Their stupidity beggars belief. NCC’s evidence of such “deprecation” was a 12-year-old article by a trans activist who, unsurprisingly, disagrees with me about matters of sex and gender.
As well as issuing an apology, NCC has since accepted that it acted unlawfully in cancelling the event. As part of the claim, we also requested that NCC carries out a review of its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy, policies and procedures, with assistance from an external body. This is because it was clear that the demands and rights of trans issues trumped those of any other group that faces discrimination. It is also apparent that NCC felt it had the right to review and cancel bookings on the basis of a speaker’s reputation.
This clearly unsettled the trans activists. They began to deny that we had won at all, pulling apart the phrase “procedurally unlawful”, suggesting that the phrase means something akin to “unlawful lite”. In this context, there is no real difference between an action being procedurally unlawful and substantively unlawful. The decision to ban me resulted in NCC taking actions which it should not have taken.
The line, “NCC has agreed that, if Nottingham Women for Change seeks to seek [SIC] to make a booking at any NCC venue by way of a fully completed booking form, the Council will make a fresh decision in response to such request upon a lawful basis,” has also been wilfully misinterpreted, with trans activists claiming that it is phrased in a way that would allow NCC to find a legal way to stop me from speaking at a subsequent event.
This is such an important win because any future refusal will be open to legal challenge. And other local authorities will have to think twice before deciding to de-platform or ban a speaker because they have decided their legal and reasonable views are offensive.
For years, trans activists have been trying to intimidate feminists and other refuseniks of trans ideology but we have fought back hard. And various organisations that have been brainwashed by Stonewall, including Garden Court Chambers, successfully sued by the black lesbian barrister Allison Bailey, have been given a legal kicking of late.
Women’s hard-won rights are not up for grabs. And I think the message might be finally getting through. So let this be a lesson to all councils. You need to follow equality law as it is, not the law as Stonewall wants it to be. Or you will be sued. And you may well lose.