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Activists clash in Duthie Park over trans rights

A womens' rights campaigner was allegedly punched in the face by a protestor

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

A campaigner with Women Won't Wheesht addresses a rally at Duthie Park.

Photo Credit: WWW

Tensions ran high Sunday afternoon as trans rights activists protested at a womens’ rights rally in Aberdeen’s Duthie Park.

Please note that the following article contains descriptions of violence.

According to campaign group Women Won’t Wheesht (WWW), one of their members was punched multiple times by a protestor prior to an event in Speaker’s Corner.

The Gaudie understands that WWW members were setting up for the rally on Sunday afternoon when a protester grabbed a large banner owned by the group.

WWW organiser Julie Marshall demanded the sign be returned.

When Ms Marshall 'reached out' to take back the banner, she was allegedly struck several times in the head and arm by the protestor, before a passerby intervened.

Per the group, the assailant was escorted off the premises by the police- who have now been given video footage of the attack.

However, protestors have challenged this narrative.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: 'On Sunday, 23 July, 2023, officers were in attendance during an organised protest in the Duthie Park area of Aberdeen.'

'We were made aware of an assault of a 54-year-old woman during the event and an individual, aged 26, has received a recorded police warning in connection with the incident.'

'There were no reports of any injuries and the protest later ended with no further issues.'

Ms Marshall provided an update on her condition on Twitter Sunday evening.

She said: ‘I am still travelling home from Aberdeen. I am in the car in a great deal of pain, my arm, neck and eye. The person who punched me twice ran over to us from about 500 yards. They stole our big WWW sign, as I tried to get it back he swung round with both hands, holding the sign and smashed me in the face, my glasses were knocked clean off my face with such force. I was then punched in the arm. I had arrived with the others just 5 mins beforehand, and we completely ignored them. Yet this person thinks that theft and violence are acceptable. Shameful.’

Who is Women Won’t Wheesht?

According to a statement by the group, Women Won’t Wheesht is a ‘a non-political campaign group, run by, & for women to advocate & campaign for our sex-based rights & considerations.’

The group is opposed to legislation such as the Gender Recognition Reform Act and the use of female toilets and locker rooms by trans women.

'We believe women and girls have the right to spaces & considerations free from men, however they identify,' a spokesperson told us.

Earlier in the week, local activist Esme Houston called on ‘all gays and allies’ to gather at the park and protest the group, whom she labelled a ‘TERF gang.’

(The term TERF stands for ‘trans exclusionary radical feminist’)

Esme, who has received hundreds of abusive messages on Twitter since Sunday, challenged WWW's narrative.

She told The Gaudie that a member of her group had been punched in the face, and that the situation had been 'reversed' in online reports.

However, in response, a WWW member told us that the incident happened away from the main group of protestors, and that they would not have been able to see the alleged assault on Julie.

Several dozen individuals gathered at the event on Sunday afternoon.

Photo Credit: WWW

What exactly happened on Sunday?

Both the protestors and WWW supporters have accused the other side of spreading hateful rhetoric throughout the afternoon.

A member of Trans Grampian who attended the protest told The Gaudie that she was ‘subjected to a barrage of hate speech from the anti trans protestors,’ whom she claims ‘spread terror and fear’ in the trans community.

According to the individual, the accompanying counter-protest was ‘loosely organised’ by a number of trans people in Aberdeen, and was not ‘a unified response’ to the WWW rally.

The protestor told us that multiple rally goers hurled insults at her, calling her a 'man with a d***' and other smears, despite the presence of children in the park.

She said: ‘Their songs were vulgar and hateful. We chanted back about trans rights and danced to ABBA…’

A number of counter protestors gathered at the rally.

Photo Credit: WWW

WWW members denied enaging in hate speech, with one woman posting on Twitter:

‘... the only hate on display today was the TRA (trans rights activist) who assaulted my friend.’

Another participant added: 'These are free speech events where women/girls can talk on any subject affecting them/their rights.'

Another person who attended the rally said a protestor with a megaphone shouted phrases like ‘fascists’ and ‘TERFS out’ at the women.

In a statement, WWW said: ‘We will not be bullied or intimidated by violence, & abhorrent attacks like these only make clear why it's so important that our voices are heard. Loud & strong. We will not be silenced. Women won't wheesht. Not now. Not ever.’

As news of the alleged assault spread across social media, SNP-breakaway party ALBA released a statement condemning the alleged attack.

They said: ‘ALBA Party condemns the attack on a woman at the Let Women Speak event in Aberdeen. We hope that the perpetrator is swiftly brought to justice.

ALBA sends our best wishes to all those involved. Intimidation and the incitement of violence towards women is totally unacceptable.'

This story is developing. More as it comes.

Please note that The Gaudie is a student run paper which seeks to foster a safe and welcoming space for all UoA students.

As such, any abusive comments will be deleted immediately.


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