Sex and gender clashed in Cardiff on the steps of the Welsh Parliament (Senedd Cymru) last Tuesday. Around 100 protesters spanning different age ranges, ethnicities and sexualities gathered together to call on the Welsh government to can its LGBTQ+ Action Plan after it was put up for public consultation. The plan is nothing but a wholesale endorsement of gender ideology and may as well have had pictures of Stonewall Cymru campaigners in the ministerial foreword instead of those of First Minister Mark Drakeford and his team.
Organised by Merched Cymru (Welsh Women), Lesbian Labour, LGB Alliance Cymru and Labour Women’s Declaration, the protest was the first of its kind in Wales, combining groups campaigning on the basis of sex and sexuality to remind a government lost in gender how multiple groups of people get shafted when the protected characteristics of sex and sexual orientation are left out of policy making. They were met with the constant whistling, raised middle fingers and chants of approximately 25 counter protesters (mostly white and very young) who made up for their lack of ‘intersectionality’ with a multitude of pronouns and gender identities (one described himself as a ‘non-binary non-man who loves women’).
The contrasting views couldn’t have been more clear when the counter protesters started chanting: “Trans women are women, trans men are men!” and some of the women responded with “No, they’re not!” It may sound like playground antics, but up on the Senedd steps the speakers were dead serious about how the proposed plan would deeply affect the rights of women and LGB people.
“This is a bad plan”, said Sarah from LGB Alliance Cymru, “It erases us as same-sex attracted people, but we are not going back in the closet!” Kate Harris from LGB Alliance delivered a no holds-barred rebuttal of the “dreadful document”, saying “It’s nonsense that only makes sense to the campaigners who wrote it” and that the government was going in the wrong direction when so many government bodies and organisations are cutting ties with Stonewall UK.
Helen from Merched Cymru highlighted the huge consequences on schools, universities, social care and work places, and scolded the government: “You can’t outsource your policy making, that’s not what you were elected for.” She also criticised the government for seemingly washing its hands of the bullying and intimidation tactics on social media by members of its ‘independent’ expert panel providing ‘strategic advice’ for the plan. It echoed Kate Harris’ earlier comments: “This panel should be ashamed – they have no arguments”. The chair of this panel, Lu Thomas, later tweeted about how “It is very clear there wasn’t [sic] many people there”, calling those attending “radicalised and confused.” It’s hard to see how calls for open dialogue and for the needs of different groups to be understood could be interpreted as “radicalised and confused,” but they fell on deaf ears outside the Senedd too – when a speaker said “You can’t listen when shouting “No debate!”, someone shouted “Go home, transphobe!”
One speech will stay with me, by a visually impaired member of a small choir that had performed songs after the first round of talks. It was delivered with so much urgency and pain it made my hair stand on end: “50% of the population are women, so why aren’t you listening to us? I have lived 70 years on this planet, I am disabled, I have been denied rights as a woman most of my life… I will not lie down for any such stupid, misogynistic campaigns as we are facing now. The emperor is naked as far as this argument goes. Just because you are afraid to tell the emperor he has no clothes, because you are scared of losing your job, that’s not good enough! Get some backbone, give women real rights!” She first did her speech in Welsh – the only speaker to do so – and some of the counter protesters mocked the distinctive Welsh pronunciation.
“50% of the population are women, so why aren’t you listening to us?”
The ‘confused radicals’ continued, undeterred. Christian, an expert on autism highlighted how the LGBTQ+ Plan proposed for GPs to prescribe hormone treatment despite acknowledging the ruling in Bell vs. Tavistock. He voiced his incomprehension at the plan not giving autism a single mention even though a disproportionate amount of young people presenting with gender dysphoria are diagnosed with autism or displaying autistic traits. “It’s simply not fit for purpose,” he said. The speaker for Lesbian Labour had earlier pointed at an even darker aspect of so-called ‘gender affirming’ medicalisation: “Transing the gay away is conversion therapy.”
Artist Sonya Douglas addressed the crowd with calm and common sense: “I saw a sign saying ‘women are not vaginas’. I know. I don’t need you to tell me I’m more than a hole in my body”. She then talked about how equality is not about inclusion, but about love, and that this was the reason she was speaking: “Love doesn’t avoid the hard stuff or lie. We have to can the plan.”
MrMenno speaking at the protest
As the last speaker I spoke about how gender extremism has turned the LGBTQ+ community against same-sex attracted people, and how the rainbow flag has become a red flag. “Mr Drakeford may be happy to play the submissive slave boy and Stonewall being his Dom Top, but I won’t take it lying down”, I said. “I am a homosexual, not a homogenderal”.
The protest ended on a high note with a rendition of the LGB Sea Shanty. Despite the tension, the noise and the shouts of the counter protestors (one called me a ‘pervert’), it had been a very positive event. For many, it was the first time they had the opportunity to take their activism to the streets after the lockdown restrictions and to finally meet ‘Twitter people’ in real life.
One of the organisers told Lesbian and Gay News: “It was a very good day. We’ve shone a light on the plan by giving it a public airing. We’ve brought it out into the open and it took some guts to do that. We were very pleased with the turn out; it’s great for activists to see a public display and to meet in real life – it forms a bond and is a healthy way of going forward”. Afterwards in the pub I asked one of the speakers why Mark Drakeford was unwilling to engage with the protest organisers. “He’s trying to be hyper-progressive in a cheap way,” she said, “And he’s taking cues from Scotland and Ireland, while going against what Westminster is doing.”
On the same day of the protest a letter of support for the LGBTQ+ Action Plan was delivered to Hannah Blythlyn (Deputy Minister for Social Partnership) signed by no less than 85 organisations across Wales. Taking a closer look, it appears there is some smoke and mirrors at play to inflate the numbers. Nevertheless, they all sing from the same gender hymn sheet which makes it even more vital to take to the public square and expose how, just as the emperor had no clothes, the Welsh LGBTQ+ dragon is full of dangerous hot air and in desperate need of some serious sex education.
The consultation is open until Friday 22nd October. You can submit a response here. Merched Cymru will shortly be publishing templates on how to respond.
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