Women’s Rights Demo, September 2021

Thank you to all who attended our demo at the Scottish Parliament, and to the MSPs who came out to speak with us – we think it was a roaring success!

This page is to bring together the main links for videos and speeches from the demonstration, but please also look on Twitter (under the hashtag #WomenWontWheesht) for many, many more videos and photographs.

Speakers: Marion Calder, Kate Coleman, Rhona Hotchkiss, Lisa Mackenzie, Caroline McAllister, Shereen Benjamin, Susan Dalgety, and Lisa Keogh

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Women Voting With Our Feet

Women were at the Scottish Parliament on 6th April, with many others joining in from all over the country, to send a message to politicians one month before the election: do not take the votes of women for granted.

Women are voting with our feet over policies and laws that directly affect our lives.

The following video was made from a selection of the photographs that have been shared on Twitter with the hashtag: #WomenVotingWithOurFeet

Why don’t you ask your Parliamentary candidates what actions they will take to protect women’s rights, and if they support the Manifesto for Women’s Rights in Scotland?

Enter your postcode here to find out who your local candidates are, and their contact details.

Since then, the shoes have been on tour round Scotland:

See the blog #WomenVotingWithOurFeet for more photographs.

Virtual Demo

Last year for International Women’s Day we held a fantastic demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Lockdown restrictions prevent us from doing similar this year, but we really wanted to get across the strength of feeling about the Hate Crime Bill and the detrimental impact it will have on free speech and women’s rights in Scotland.

So we are hosting a virtual demo instead! This is our message to our politicians that Women Are Watching what is debated and voted on in Parliament on 10th March, even if we cannot be there in person.

Thank you to everyone who joined in and sent us photographs – a video compilation is on our YouTube and also shown here, along with all the photographs.

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Hate Crime Bill – email MSPs

The Hate Crime Bill reaches the final stage in its passage through Parliament next Wednesday 10th March, when MSPs consider the final amendments and vote on whether the Bill passes into legislation.

Time is very short so we are asking for people to email their MSPs today to highlight outstanding concerns with the Bill and to press them to support amendments that will protect women and all our rights to free speech. We are calling for ‘sex’ to be added to Part 1 of the Bill and, since the freedom of expression protections remain weak, we are also calling for Part 2 to be scrapped.

Everyone has one constituency MSP and seven regional MSPs – they will all be voting next Wednesday so please contact all eight of them. To find out who they are and their email addresses just enter your postcode here. Remember to put your address at the bottom of your email so MSPs know you are in their constituency/region.

Please ask your MSPs to SUPPORT the following amendments on Wednesday:

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Labour Leadership Contest

Our members and supporters in the Labour Party will know that voting in the Scottish Labour leadership elections opened on 9th February 2021, and will close on 26th February 2021. It has emerged that both contenders, Monica Lennon and Anas Sarwar, have joined LGBT+ Labour Scotland’s Rainbow Network. Network members commit (among other things) to “Supporting the Scottish Labour Party’s LGBT+ manifesto pledges, including reform to the Gender Recognition Act”.

We agree that the leadership contenders should be held to the party’s manifesto pledges made little more than a year ago, for the December 2019 general election. We’re puzzled, though, that the signatories to the Rainbow Network appear to have forgotten that the Scottish Labour manifesto didn’t include Gender Recognition Act reform. What it actually said was:

The Scottish Government is consulting over changes to the Gender Recognition Act and Scottish Labour will listen carefully to the submissions and debate as the legislation progresses.

We fully support this manifesto pledge and hope that both leadership candidates will re-commit themselves to it. We know our supporters in Scottish Labour want a leader who listens carefully to consultation findings rather than pre-judging them, and participates constructively in debate.

We also trust that the leadership contenders will commit themselves to another 2019 manifesto pledge:

Ensure that the single-sex-based exemptions contained in the Equality Act 2010 are understood and fully enforced in service provision.

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RSHP Education

The national resource for relationshipssexual health and parenthood (RSHP) education for children and young people has changed quite considerably since it first came online at rshp.com, when the Scotsman reported on parents concerns about 5 year-olds being told they could decide whether to be a boy or a girl (see our earlier blog post).

This aspect, along with several others, has thankfully now been removed, and we welcome the improvements. However, there are still considerable concerns over the content.

Mr Ben (on Twitter @crit_gen) sent us the letter that she wrote to John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education, outlining the main issues. We have reproduced it here with her permission to help other parents write their own letters – Mr Swinney can be emailed at DFMCSE@gov.scot

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Speakers Corner

Sick and tired of being banned from social media and cancelled for telling the truth, women are taking back the public square, one corner at a time.

At 2pm on Sunday 2nd August, women will gather at the foot of the Mound/Princes St in Edinburgh, reviving the tradition of free speech at the site of the historical Speakers’ Corner.

In the current climate of cancel culture, there is a new urgency to demonstrate the right to free speech. Women will describe how they have been harassed, threatened, silenced and fired for daring to define themselves.

Social distancing will be strictly observed and guest speakers will also be live streamed on For Women Scotland YouTube for those who prefer to stay at home.

After the live stream ends, all women are invited to speak for approximately 2 minutes.