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British Woman Arrested for ‘Non-Political’ Protest

The U.K. government’s coronavirus response has unveiled a worryingly authoritarian streak in British politics. When George Floyd was killed in the United States — a foreign jurisdiction — Black Lives Matter protesters across the U.K. flouted social-distancing rules, conducted mass gatherings, and even destroyed public property, all while the police stood idly by. But yesterday, when the group Standing for Women met at Victoria Square in Leeds to protest reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (2004), the police intervened and arrested three women, including the event’s organizer’s Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull (see below):

Josephine Bartosch at The Critic reports:

A police officer told Kelly-Jay Keen that Standing for Women “failed to meet the legal definition of a political organisation”, though he himself seemed unable to explain what the legal definition of a political organisation was. The socially distanced crowd then divided into smaller groups of six to comply with Covid-19 regulations, but nonetheless officers began to take the names and addresses of attendees and the planned speeches were left unspoken.

On the same day as women were arrested because their protest was not deemed political, Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor of The Times reported on the very issue that had brought most of them together; the proposed amendment to the GRA. Standing for Women’s campaign against the reform of the GRA has centred upon the definition of “woman” as meaning “adult human female.” The proposed legislative reform would have in effect changed “woman” to mean “any person who identifies as a woman” effectively making women-only refuges, changing rooms and hospital wards mixed sex.