London trans rights protest cancelled after police ‘threaten to arrest participants’ hours before it was due to start

GMB Union trans rights letter Liz Truss

A planned trans rights protest in London has been cancelled at the last minute after police warned attendees could face arrest.

The London Trans Rights Protest was set to go ahead on Saturday (September 5) at Parliament Square, but was called off on Friday after organisers were told by police that participants would risk arrest.

In a statement, organiser Thaniel Dorian claimed that a representative from the Metropolitan Police had assured them Thursday (September 3) there would be “no risk of arrests or fines” if the protest went ahead, because it did not pose a risk of danger.

However, Dorian said, the police’s approach changed dramatically on Friday.

“The police called us and informed us that there is a likelihood that us, any participants, stewards and even BSL interpreters of the Trans Rights Protest will be arrested on September 5,” they wrote.

Dorian called off the protest on the basis that it would be dangerous for “attendees, volunteers and all concerned”.

“We cannot risk people being arrested and fined, especially given the high risk to marginalised groups when encountered by the police.”

Trans rights protest in London was called off at the last minute after police allegedly threatened to arrest activists.

Dorian told PinkNews that a police representative said the protest must not go ahead as gatherings of more than 30 people have been banned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When approached regarding the matter, police pointed PinkNews in the direction of regulations which came into force August 28, giving officers to power to fine both organisers and attendees of gatherings of more than 30 people.

“The [Metropolitan Police] strongly advises people not to attend any large gathering for the protection of yourselves and others. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic,” a statement read.

The same regulations saw Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, fined £10,000 following an anti-lockdown rally in Trafalgar Square on August 29 at which he and 18 others were arrested.

However Dorian was not satisfied by the police’s reasoning, and felt “absolutely shocked” when they received the phone call, as they have had a strong working relationship with the force in the past.

Marginalised people do not feel protected by the police, we feel at risk and actions like this will only make matters worse.

“To have them change their mind so suddenly and threaten us like that was a reminder that we cannot rely on them to support the free speech of marginalised groups,” Dorian said.

They argue that the move is in contravention of the Human Rights Act, which gives everyone the right to peaceful assembly.

“Given that protests like ours require mandatory use of face masks and social distancing, our recognition of ensuring the safety of our community during a pandemic should be recognised, especially considering our own government’s hypocritical allowance of people to engage in far more dangerous activities like going to the pub.”

Since announcing that the protest was cancelled on Friday, Dorian said they have heard from trans people who are “incredibly disappointed”. Many feel that the law enforcement system is not designed to protect them.

“Marginalised people do not feel protected by the police, we feel at risk and actions like this will only make matters worse.”