WOMEN from feminist campaign group Woman’s Place UK were left dismayed earlier today after the Cardiff venue they had booked for their latest event cancelled at short notice.
WPUK, which holds public meetings around Britain to discuss the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, was informed by tweet that, after coming under pressure, the venue was no longer prepared to host the event.
Mercure Cardiff Holland House tweeted that it “does not tolerate any form of racist, sexist or bigoted behaviour. For this reason we have cancelled an event that had been booked at our hotel to reinforce our position. All members of our team are committed to eradicating any instances of discrimination.”
Mercure was inundated with replies on Twitter, with some supporting the hotel’s decision and others saying that they would boycott the hotel in future.
WPUK insisted the meeting would still go ahead “at an alternative venue which respects the rights of women to meet and talk about matters of material and legitimate interest to them,” and claimed that Mercure’s tweet was defamatory.
The panel of speakers includes WPUK co-founder Ruth Serwotka, feminist writers Jeni Harvey and Raquel Rosario Sanchez and former Plaid Cymru AM Helen Mary Jones.
Ms Serwotka said: “Women have the right to free speech and free assembly. Those silencing feminist meetings should consider their motives.
“One hundred years after the suffragettes we continue to have to assert our right to political and social freedom. I am so pleased that the women of Cardiff are resourceful and brilliant and already have a new venue. This meeting will go ahead.”
Ms Jones, a former shadow minister for education and lifelong learning, said it was “very unfortunate” that the Mercure had cancelled, as WPUK was “not an organisation that supports bigots or discrimination.”
“We want to have an informed debate about proposed changes to the law and to seek opinions about the way forward,” she told Wales Online.
“I have fought against prejudice and discrimination all my life. The idea that I or any other speakers would have anything to do with a hate group is ridiculous.”
A spokesperson for Mercure Cardiff Holland House said: “The decision to cancel an event on Thursday 12 at the Mercure Cardiff Holland House was taken in the best interests of hotel guests and staff after concerns were raised about their safety, which is our priority, due to potential disruption and protests.
“The decision in no way implied any judgement on the views of those organising the event, or those protesting against it. While we are a leader in encouraging diversity and inclusion in all its forms, it is not our policy to pass comment on the view of others.
“Regrettably an unauthorised tweet was posted on behalf of the hotel which did not accurately reflect the position of the hotel, the Mercure brand or AccorHotels, and which has since been removed. We have taken action to ensure this can’t be repeated and are reviewing our processes. We apologise unreservedly for any offence caused by this miscommunication.”
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