LONDON — In an attack on the rights of all working people, Gwent police arrested women’s rights campaigner Jennifer Swayne under thought-control “hate-crime” laws Jan. 23. They searched her home, seizing materials, including the book Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body.
Swayne, who is disabled, was arrested as she was riding her mobility scooter and putting up homemade posters along the streets of Newport, South Wales. The posters included slogans, “respect women’s spaces,” “no men in women’s prisons,” and the statement “no child is born in the wrong body, humans never change sex.”
Cops detained her for more than 12 hours for “displaying threatening or abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.”
Swayne, a former teacher, says that when cops searched her home they confiscated her phone and hundreds of stickers, claiming they target transgender people. “Not one of them mentions anything horrible about any particular group,” Swayne said. Some of the stickers draw attention to violence against women.
The book seized by cops is a collection of essays that argue sex is biologically determined and that allowing children to undergo sex-change operations is dangerous. It is edited by Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore.
Brunskell-Evans, an academic at Kings College, London, told the London Times her book “should be of no concern to the police.”
“My thinking is being investigated,” Swayne tweeted after her release on bail. One condition is she has to report to Newport police Feb. 24. Women’s rights groups have called a demonstration that day to support her and to protest the attack on free speech at 1:30 p.m. outside the police station.
The assault on her rights is one example of several similar attacks. Academics across the U.K. face threats and witch hunts for holding views that sex should take precedence over a person’s gender to protect women-only spaces. University professors Kathleen Stock and Jo Phoenix faced hostile campaigns by students and staff demanding that their classes be “shut down” by authorities. Their “crime” is expressing views that are based on scientific fact — that men and women are biologically different. A view shared by millions.
For working people and our unions “it’s vital to defend freedom of speech: the right to read whatever we wish and exchange views freely,” said Pamela Holmes, Communist League candidate for mayor of Tower Hamlets in London. “We need these rights as we organize to fight bosses’ attacks.” Holmes urged others to join in defending gains won for women’s rights, such as women-only spaces in rape counseling, refuges, prisons and sports.