TRANS rights activists have lost a battle to cancel a conference they claimed was transphobic after the venue was threatened with legal action.

Glasgow Trans Rally launched an unsuccessful campaign to have Glasgow venue Platform ditch an event planned to go ahead by FiLiA, a gender-critical feminist charity.

FiLiA said Platform, in the former site of The Arches nightclub, had initially caved in to pressure and cancelled until they were threatened with legal action and reinstated the event.

Organisers hailed the outcome as a victory for "freedom of speech". 

Confirmed speakers at the event include SNP politicians Ruth Maguire and Joanna Cherry, who expressed reservations about the Scottish Government’s blocked transgender law reforms, as well as Scottish poet Jenny Lindsay, who experienced an online pile-on when she raised concerns about an article advocating for violence against trans-exclusionary radical feminists.

Speakers will include a long list of international feminist campaigners, including anti-violence against women campaigners, female healthcare campaigners and academics.

Glasgow Trans Rally has claimed radical feminist writer Julie Bindel, who has spoken at previous FiLiA conferences, will attend the event this weekend, though this has not been confirmed by organisers.

FiLiA’s website says the group campaigns for “a world free from patriarchy where all women and girls are liberated”.

But the campaign against the group has described it as being “explicitly and dangerously transphobic”.

In a statement posted to Instagram, Glasgow Trans Rally said: “This weekend, Platform in the centre of Glasgow will host the FiLiA conference – a ‘women’s rights’ conference that is explicitly and dangerously transphobic, with speakers such as Julie Bindel, Joanna Cherry, and many others.

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“‘Feminist’ conferences such as this legitimise debates around trans lives as an area of concern for women and pit trans rights against womens’ rights.

“It encourages an environment which materially endangers trans folk, especially trans women, and contributes to an environment where our lives and rights are debated – as can be seen by Rishi Sunak’s latest comments.”

The Glasgow Trans Rally group have confirmed they will protest the event on Friday.

Lisa-Marie Taylor, the chief executive and co-founder of FiLiA, said: “We are delighted that our conference is going ahead. We were dismayed when we were informed by Platform at very short notice that they were not going to allow us into the venue.

“It was clear to us that they and their staff had been pressurised by a group determined to undermine women’s rights and thwarting freedom of speech.

“The idea that so many women may have been shut out because of a small band of anti-democratic and anonymous campaigners was extremely distressing.

“We are very grateful to our legal team for acting so quickly to turn this round.”

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Cherry, who is speaking at the conference, said: “I hope that this case sends a very clear message to venues all over the country that they do not have to buckle when pressurised by misguided and anonymous activists hell-bent on undermining not only women who wish to advance the ongoing problems we continue to face on a daily basis, but the rule of law itself.

“The law is on their side. I stand in solidarity with FiLiA having myself been ‘cancelled’ earlier in the year, only for me to take similar legal action and for The Stand to back down.

“I said at the time: ‘I think it says something's gone very wrong in Scotland's civic space. Small groups of activists are now dictating who can speak and what can be discussed.’

“I stand by that concern, but the fight must go on to allow everyone to debate the issues freely without fear of being vilified and cancelled by a small minority out to undermine fundamental principles of democracy.”

David McKie of Levy and McRae, FiLiA's solicitors, said: “The Equality Act is very clear and is designed to prevent anyone being discriminated against on grounds of their beliefs.

“The law applies to all. The recent cases of Billy Graham against the SECC and Joanna Cherry against The Stand Comedy Club reinforced that principle.”

In a statement provided by Platform's lawyers, the venue said: "We are fully aware of and comply with our legal obligations and responsibilities under the equality legislation.

"We welcome a diverse and eclectic clientele including those from the trans community on our premises. We also recognise the right to peaceful protest.

"As a responsible employer we always closely monitor and safeguard the safety and wellbeing of our employees and would condemn any unlawful behaviour that could affect them."