On Sunday, April 16, a counter-protest was held in Belfast city centre to oppose a rally organised by British anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker. The LGBTQ+ community and allies gathered in the city to show solidarity with trans and non-binary folks, displaying an enormous banner that read, “The North says trans joy!”.
The counter-protest was organised at the same time as Kellie-Jay Keen addressed a ‘Let Women Speak’ rally at the Big Fish on Donegall Quay. Keen, who describes herself as a “women’s rights activist”, has held similar events in the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand, where she used anti-trans rhetoric.
One such event due to take place in New Zealand last month was cancelled after scuffles ahead of the planned speech. Furthermore, an earlier appearance in Australia was welcomed by white supremacist groups, who took the streets performing the Nazi salute repeatedly.
A similar event was also due to take place in Dublin, however, it was cancelled this week, with Keen claiming that it was due to security reasons, as the police were “overstretched” in connection to Biden’s presence in the city.
We're here, we're queer. We're not going anywhere!!! pic.twitter.com/ZBk5QLUkTn
— Trans & Intersex Pride Dublin 🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈 (@DubTrans) April 16, 2023
Activists from LGBTQ+ organisation The Rainbow Project, trade unions and women’s groups organised the counter-protest in Belfast to oppose the rally with Posie Parker, with people joining from Dublin thanks to buses organised by Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin and Dublin Pride. Around the same time, another event called ‘Songs for Solidarity’ was also held at Writers’ Square to show support for “transgender, non-binary and other gender creative people”.
Taking to Facebook ahead of the event, the organisers of ‘Songs for Solidarity’ said that the ‘Let Women Speak’ rally and its participants “do not represent the views of the majority of people of NI”.
“Our event is intended to be a positive and joyful presence in Belfast – this is our city,” the Facebook post explained.
great to stand as an ally in solidarity with the trans community! the buzz & togetherness in belfast was lovely to see! 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️💜💪#NoPlaceForHate #TransRightsAreHumanRights pic.twitter.com/AGsJoa9pVm
— Olivia Davidson Millar (@livveyjd13) April 16, 2023
Director of The Rainbow Project, John O’Doherty, took part in the trans rights demonstration and said: “We’re here today to ensure that every trans and non-binary person in Northern Ireland knows that they’re welcome and there is a community here waiting to embrace them and the hatred being shared by the other demonstration today is not reflective of the people in Northern Ireland”.
Yesterday we travelled up to Belfast to stand with our trans friends against hateful and divisive rhetoric.
At Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride we stand with the trans community today and every day pic.twitter.com/NVMDpr7NmR
— Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride (@DublinPride) April 17, 2023
Cailín McCaffery, a representative for People Before Profit, said that the “Let Women Speak” rally was “organised by people who want to spread fear and misinformation about a marginalised minority group in our society”.
“It is not trans people who have denied women their rights – trans rights are not in conflict with women’s rights,” she added. “Thankfully, most women’s rights organisations in Ireland have a strong track record in supporting trans people.”
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