Transgender critics lined Belfast marathon route with banners about upcoming election

Voters and candidates had a Belfast Marathon reminder yesterday of a question feminists campaigners have posed which has led to non-unionist parties being accused of cowardice during the election.

By Henry McDonald
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 10:33 am
An image of one of the banners
An image of one of the banners

Women’s Rights Network Northern Ireland (WRN NI) erected three banners at separate locations along the marathon route, calling on local politicians to define what a woman is and for them to “respect our sex if you want our X”.

The campaign group said they placed the banners outside Belfast Royal Academical Institution, on the Crumlin Road and on the Antrim Road to encourage voters to ask would be MLAs to “respect our sex” and define a woman through biology and not self-identification.

During the last fortnight of the election campaign feminists also sent a number of questions related to safe spaces for women and girls to candidates taking part in the election.

Standing for Women in Northern Ireland asked the candidates if biological men who dressed and self-identified as women should be allowed into changing rooms with teenage girls.

All the major non-unionist party candidates for Alliance, Sinn Fein, the SDLP, People Before Profit and Greens initially declined to answer the question. Candidates for all the main unionist parties said No to the question.

On Thursday one sole SDLP candidate in East Belfast, Charlotte Carson, broke ranks stating that men with genitalia but self-identifying as women should not be allowed into young females’ changing areas.

On the banners displayed at the Belfast Marathon, a spokeswoman for WRN NI said: “We are encouraging all women across Northern Ireland to keep our campaign in mind when casting their votes on May 5. Please contact your MLA candidates before Thursday and ask them to ‘respect our sex’.

“We would like to remind potential MLAs that our grassroots movement is continually growing and the issue of sex-based rights and child safeguarding is not going away anytime soon.

“We will continue to hold those elected accountable for ensuring our rights, and those of our children are protected and look forward to engaging with politicians willing to finally listen to women.”

The WRN NI banners put up over the weekend are part of a UK-wide campaign directed at candidates in all the elections taking place in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this Thursday.

The campaign has put pressure on national political figures including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.