Queen’s University ‘wrongly curbing free speech and belief of transgender critics’

A prominent lawyer has said Queen’s University Belfast’s (QUB) code of conduct violates the rights of academics and students who do not accept the ideas of transgender activists.

Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 9:15 am
The pronouns which trans activists demand people use have become a contentious issue

Roger Kiska was speaking after the News Letter investigated QUB’s policy on transgenderism, amid UK-wide concerns that people are being shamed or silenced for disagreeing with the ideas of gender activists – particularly on university campuses.

A new QUB code of conduct for all staff and students entered force earlier this year, and is backed up by a specific transgender policy document.

They say refusal to accept somebody’s “gender identity” is “transphobic” – something that can lead to dismissal.

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They go on to state – as matters of fact –that there is such a thing as “non-binary” people, and that gender is “largely culturally determined”.

The university also tells people to use whatever pronouns a trans or “non-binary” person wants (which can include new words like ‘ze’, ‘zir’, ‘xe’ or ‘xim’) and states that transgender people should be allowed into whatever changing rooms, showers, or toilets they want, based on the gender which they “identify” as.

Roger Kiska, formal legal consultant to the EU Parliament, now working with the Christian Legal Centre, said QUB appears to conflate those who have undergone “gender reassignment” (a protected characteristic in law) with the much more vague idea of “gender identity” (not protected).

He said the Northern Ireland Act 1998 requires QUB to “promote equality of opportunity for people with different religious and political beliefs, which would include dissenting views about transgender ideology and gender identity”.

He further said the European Convention on Human Rights, and ‘98 Human Rights Act, both protect free speech.

“The university’s policy therefore is seeking to limit the bona fide rights of those who genuinely enjoy them, in relation to religious and political belief and freedom of expression, for the purpose of protecting those without a legitimate legally-protected characteristic,” he said.

“The proposed policy is so overly broad it’d never survive judicial challenge, particularly since it is based on an erroneous understanding of the law on gender reassignment.”

His points were put to QUB, which said: “The University is proud of its work promoting equality, respect for diversity and greater inclusion both on campus and in the workplace.

“Our ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy’ reflects our strong and visible commitment to promoting equality of opportunity, good relations and respect.”

It added the policy had been subject to “lengthy” scrutiny before entering force.

A MULTITUDE OF POSSIBLE GENDERS:

“Transgender” refers to people who say they are the opposite gender to the one they were born into.

Activists insist such people must be treated as whichever gender they “self-identify” as – regardless of whether they’ve taken hormones, had an operation, or changed their status legally.

“Non-binary” does not refer to people born with both male and female sex organs; such people are known as “intersex” (and are vanishingly small in number).

Instead “non-binary” means anyone who states that their true self is neither fully male nor female, but is instead some hitherto-unknown gender, like “neutrois”, “gender-queer”, “gender-fluid, “ or “agender”.

Two organisations which lobby on transgender matters – Transgender NI and the Rainbow Project – were asked for comment, but did not provide any.

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