Women’s Place UK (WPUK) are holding a one-day conference at UCL, invited by “UCL Women’s Liberation” on Saturday 1st February 2020. Details of the announcement were made shortly before the Xmas vacations required for each attendee, and that venue details are “confidential to ticket-holders” , but it has only come to our attention in the past few days. There are a number of irregularities with the advertising of the conference of the sort that have brought reputational damage to UCL in the past, including no public information about any of the invited speakers. That ID ialso sends alarm bells about the nature of the event being held, and its content.
Why might the conference have these special requirements? WPUK are well known for advocating themselves as being “gender critical”. Their manifesto, launched in 2019 includes opposition for the proposed improvements to the Gender Recognition Act, the exclusion of transgender and gender diverse people from d spaces and an ongoing campaign against gender-neutral spaces such as restrooms.
Other organisations have taken the step to cancel WPUK conferences when they realised the content of their debates, including Leeds City Council in 2018.
WPUK’s views on gender identity are transphobic and discriminatory. They go against everything that UCL has been trying to do in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion, and are in direct contradiction to Stonewall’s UK Workplace Equality Index.
While Freedom of Expression is a fundamental right, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recognise that no one can rely on the human right of freedom of expression to limit or undermine the human rights of others. Furthermore, Freedom of Expression does not protect statements that discriminate against or harass other persons particularly by reference to their gender or sexual orientation.
Letting this conference go ahead will result in a huge backlash from staff and students, and cause considerable reputational damage to the university. It will also cause emotional damage to trans colleagues and students. We request that UCL withdraw their support in providing physical space for WPUK to showcase their discriminatory views. From the website, considerable conference fees are being charged, and we request that UCL act to stop WPUK from profiting from discrimination on UCL estates.