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Feminist group seeks legal advice after being barred from Plaid Cymru conference

23 Mar 2024 4 minute read
FiLiA CEO Lisa-Marie Taylor

Martin Shipton

A radical feminist group is seeking legal advice after its booking of a stall at Plaid Cymru’s Spring conference in Caernarfon was revoked.

FiLiA, a women’s rights charity that hosts the largest annual grassroots feminist conference in Europe, was told that some of its positions, for example on trans rights, were “potentially contrary to the party’s values”.

FiLiA CEO Lisa-Marie Taylor said the group had booked a stand at the conference, hoping to use the opportunity to talk to delegates and Plaid Cymru politicians about a range of grassroots campaigns they support. But the booking was cancelled with less than 48 hours notice.

Ms Taylor said: “In 2022 FiLiA spent a year in Cardiff in the lead up to an event that saw over 1,500 women from Wales and beyond attend to discuss topics ranging from family courts to police-perpetrated abuse, the environment, migration and motherhood.

“Throughout 2022 FiLiA supported local women to learn to swim, campaign and make banners. We launched the international Hague Mothers project and held sessions in fundraising, art for women with mental health issues and more.”

Safe space

The message FiLiA received from Plaid said: “While there are many issues and campaigns on which I expect we would agree, it has come to my attention that some of FiLiA’s positions are potentially contrary to the party’s values – for instance on trans rights. We welcome robust debate, but must balance this with the need for our delegates from all backgrounds to feel as though the party conference is a safe space for them to express their identity comfortably.

I regret therefore that we will be unable to welcome you to Caernarfon this week. I’m sorry for the late notice.”

Ms Taylor said: “FiLiA volunteers are surprised and disappointed that they have been excluded in this way. Bags were packed, plans had been made.”

A FiLiA volunteer and Plaid Cymru member, who has asked not to be named because she says the party’s decision has made her feel unwelcome and unsafe, said: “This is hard to take in.

Prosiect Pawb (the damning report on misogyny and bullying within Plaid) said ‘The NEC must be confident that actions taken in the light of Prosiect Pawb’s findings and recommendations will be effective in enabling permanent, non-reversible measures to detoxify a culture of harassment, bullying and misogyny and to make Plaid truly and visibly welcoming to women.’ “How does this decision fit with that? I’ve never felt less welcome in my own party. I feel bullied and excluded. What is it about FiLiA’s values that clashes with Plaid’s?”

Ms Taylor said: “There was no attempt to seek clarity around the values of FiLia at any time. FiLiA has asked Plaid Cymru for an explanation, putting the following questions to them:

* On what specific basis is this decision being made? The term ‘potentially contrary to party values’ is vague and we would like to understand exactly what is meant by this.

* Referring to ‘trans rights’ and the need to have a ‘safe space’ – if those with a protected belief in innate gender are welcome, why are those with the opposite but equally protected belief not? This appears on the face of it to be unlawful discrimination.

* What measures are Plaid Cymru putting in place to ensure that ‘delegates from all backgrounds’ (which includes women with gender-critical views) ‘feel as though the party conference is a safe space for them’”?

Values

Ms Taylor said: “A response from Plaid Cymru failed to answer FiLiA’s questions, simply restating that ‘We are unable to host organisations who have views that are contrary to the party’s values.’

“This position seems strange, in the light of the fact that in recent years many organisations that do not share all of Plaid Cymru’s values have been able to have a presence at the conference – including a conference dinner hosted by Heathrow Airport, which doesn’t exactly sit well with Plaid’s green credentials.

“In the past the Party has been prepared to engage with those with whom they may not agree, in the spirit of open debate.

“It is unclear how a women’s charity such as ours could possibly contravene the ‘values’ of the party. This ban doesn’t seem to sit well with the party leadership’s repeated public commitments to root out misogyny.

“We will be pressing for proper answers to the questions we’ve raised. And we are consulting our lawyers, as we believe that this ban may be unlawful. It is certainly unfair and unjust.”


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Ali Morris
Ali Morris
17 days ago

Plaid should be ashamed of itself. They pretend to be the party of Wales – everyone in Wales, but this doesn’t seem to include half the population. Women have a right to be seen and heard. FiLiA has done more for the women in Wales than any of the political parties or other large women’s charities. Why? Cos they actually listen to the women they support. Plaid is acting like every other party they profess to be different from. This is the Wales we have to look forward to if Plaid is elected. Women silenced for daring to have their… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
17 days ago
Reply to  Ali Morris

Plaid trotting out that old “safe space” bollox reveals the extent to which they cower away from a particularly noisy minority set of members and outside pressures. Best that FiLiA switch focus onto people with open minds and not afraid of debate.

CapM
CapM
17 days ago
Reply to  Ali Morris

“This is the Wales we have to look forward to if Plaid is elected. Women silenced for daring to have their own thoughts.”

That and also the sky falling in and a third of humankind killed by fire, smoke, and brimstone coming out of their mouths. Then there’s the tails of Welsh mountain ponies turning into serpents and biting people.
Book of Revelations: Alt-right version; Wales edition

Another Richard
Another Richard
17 days ago

This is rank misogyny. I hope FILIA find legal grounds to sue the pants off Plaid.

hdavies15
hdavies15
17 days ago

No need to bother, Plaid is stagnating in its own bile.

HarrisR
HarrisR
17 days ago

“Plaid Cymru needs to “detoxify a culture of harassment, bullying and *misogyny*”, according to a damning review of the party.

It says “too many instances of bad behaviour were tolerated”

Most instances were gender based it says” – BBC Wales.

Well, that lasted five minutes! Laughable if it wasn’t so predictable. Plaid, the invertebrate party.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
17 days ago

Plaid need to remember that they are nothing without the electorate. If they keep ignoring large sections of the electorate (e.g. women), the electorate will withdraw their support and Plaid will collapse. Ponder well!

byron grundy
byron grundy
17 days ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Fingers crossed

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
17 days ago

Progressive party values.

Glen
Glen
17 days ago

So if you are not prepared to believe a man can change gender just by wearing a dress and a wig, Plaid doesn’t want your vote?

Jen
Jen
17 days ago

Party with selection systems that protect and promote a few ‘tame’ women in their ranks. However, on all policy issues they are very weak in taking into account half the population, biological women. Instead they fall back on historic complaining instead of listening and planning for the future. Very sad that Wales Labour has had to buy into the cruel belief that trans women are women in order to get the Co-operation agreement. Sure sign that misogynist men of Plaid loath men who genuinely wish to dress and live as women. Instead Plaid isolates them because of The nonsense of… Read more »

Arthur Owen
Arthur Owen
17 days ago

What happened to ‘rhydd i bawb ei farn,ac i bob barn ei llafar’?

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
17 days ago

‘Plaids green credentials’, they are not worth the paper they are written on. Although the Plaid leader says in Wales we do things differently, when it comes to supposed ‘green credentials’ they are similar to the other parties. In our case greenwashing with a side of ecocide is the order of the day.

CapM
CapM
17 days ago

It seems a lot of comments are coming from a certain perspective here and elsewhere on Nation.Cymru. There’s bound to be a lot more to come as we’re in the run up to a general election.

The certain perspective being – we know we’re going to be stuffed but we’d rather be stuffed by a fellow British nationalist party than the nasty nats gain any traction. Also due to dear Kier Labour’s looking quite Tory anyway.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
17 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Does Plaid Cymru give you confidence that they would not ‘stuff’ the country?

CapM
CapM
17 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

Perhaps I should have made in clearer and more obvious.

we Tory party supporters know that the Tory party is going to be stuffed in the coming general election but we Tory party supporters would rather our party be stuffed by Labour, a fellow British nationalist party rather than Plaid Cymru gain support from voters.
Also under Kier Starmer’s leadership Labour’s policies look quite similar to our Tory party policies anyway.

Hope this helps. I’ve assumed that you don’t need an explanation of what “stuffed” means.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
17 days ago
Reply to  CapM

You assume correct regarding your last sentence. As for Mr Starmer he is just a red tory, his pandering to the right leaning media, and his constant U-turns are embarrassing.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
17 days ago

The women’s charity FiLiA should have been able to set up their display as long as they generally support the Party’s politics or otherwise with the statement that any views expressed by the stall is not necessary the policy of the host party. Even long term members of Plaid must have policy differences on some issues and some other issues may be too complex to be defined. Let them attend. They may learn more and we can learn too. This has been blown out of proportion and common sense should be prevalent. Yes, It is UK election year and we… Read more »

Ann
Ann
16 days ago

Mabye it’s about time that Filia start a women only political party, but only bialogical women can join and from whatever party they support, and just fight for woman’s rights. As every other political party seem to only fight for what men desire.

Daf
Daf
17 days ago

So disappointing from Plaid Cymru. I hoped we get something a bit more robust and outward looking from their new leader (Adam Price never had any ‘common touch’, and seemed to think women were there to hand out leaflets and do the typing). But it looks like Rhun ap Iorwerth is a case of ‘meet the new boss – same as the old boss.’ What he and other politicians don’t seem to grasp is how out of touch with the general public they are on the matter of women and trans rights. The public, across a lot of the political… Read more »

Delia Morris
Delia Morris
17 days ago

The world wide suppression of women.

byron grundy
byron grundy
17 days ago

Plaid are a joke. They do not represent the working class of Wales and are mostly middle class and on the gravy train

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