Jan 11th, 2019
Canadian Feminist Meghan Murphy spoke to a sold-out crowd of 300 people at the Vancouver Public Library last night, despite demands for censorship by hostile opponents who disagree with Ms. Murphy’s views on transgenderism.
Meghan Murphy is the founder and editor of Feminist Current, a popular Canadian feminist website. A resident of Vancouver, Murphy regularly engages in public discourse on the subjects of sex, sexuality, and gender. She holds a Master’s degree from Simon Fraser University. She has become known internationally for her coverage of women’s issues, including the Vancouver waxing cases in which female aestheticians working out of their homes refused to wax the testicles of a local Vancouverite who sometimes identifies as a woman. In that case, the Justice Centre represented one of the women accused of discrimination on the basis of “gender identity and expression” at the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The case was withdrawn.
Several Vancouver women booked the Alice Mackay room at the Vancouver Public Library in November 2018, to hold the event “Meghan Murphy in Vancouver” in January 2019. On November 28, the Library’s Chief Librarian issued a statement regarding the event in which she stated that the Library “does not agree with the views of the Feminist Current”, and that “Meghan Murphy’s opinions are concerning”.
On December 3, the Library sent a letter to organizers, which states, in part, that “[the] event has attracted significant attention and we have been advised that there will likely be public protests against the event at or near the Library.” The Library demanded that the event not start at 6:30 PM as booked, but rather start no earlier than 9:30 p.m.—after the Library had closed. It further demanded that, “to ensure safety”, Feminist Current must pay a fee of $2,047.50 for “additional security guards”. The organizers protested the additional charge, noting that they already had retained private security.
The Justice Centre was retained to act for the organizers and sent a legal warning letter to Julia Morrison, Acting Director of Corporate Services and Facilities at the Vancouver Public Library, requesting that the Library cease its interference with freedom of expression by rescinding the security fee, which it characterized as “content-based discrimination” and a “heckler’s veto”. The Justice Centre also reminded the library that, as a government entity, the Library has a duty of neutrality, and its interference with the event infringed the Charter rights of both speakers and listeners.
After some discussion between the parties’ legal counsel, the Library agreed that the Event would proceed. Last night, ticket holders stood in a security line surrounded by opponents shouting and chanting against the exercise of the basic constitutional right to hold and express diverse opinions regarding women’s rights and transgenderism. Vancouver city police were stationed along the line of people, and private security were mingled in with the protest. Security outside searched all attendees, and their bags, and stamps were placed on attendees’ hands. Security double checked bags, stamps and tickets as members of the public entered the lecture hall.
Inside, Meghan Murphy and other presenters peacefully set out their views on gender, women’s only spaces, feminist themes, and freedom of expression.