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Pressure mounts to cancel Vancouver event featuring critic of transgender rights

Last Updated Nov 30, 2018 at 8:48 am PST

(Wiki Commons/Eyoälha Baker)
Summary

The VPL is feeling pressure to cancel a January event featuring a writer who doesn't recognize transgender rights

But the library says Meghan Murphy's appearance doesn't violate the library's free speech policy

Some local activists are not happy with the Vancouver Public Library's decision

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) — Trans rights advocates are demanding the cancellation of an upcoming event at the Vancouver Public Library featuring a writer critical of that community.

But according to the library, the appearance by Meghan Murphy doesn’t violate the library’s free speech policy.

Chief Librarian Christina de Castell says they have zero tolerance for discrimination and don’t endorse the views of the founder of a website called Feminist Current, but the space rented by organizers of Murphy’s Jan. 10 speech is public.

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“Our legal counsel has advised us against cancelling the booking. We care deeply about the diversity of our community and we want to be a welcoming place for all,” de Castell says. “We offer space for rent by any member of the public as long as they’ve agreed not to contravene the Criminal Code and the BC Human Rights code and that is the case in this situation as Feminist Current has agreed that they will not contravene the Criminal Code and the BC Human Rights code.”

She insists Murphy’s views don’t qualify as hate speech.

“Controversial ideas don’t mean that someone should be barred from speaking as long as they stay within the Criminal Code and BC Human Rights Code,” de Castell adds.

That doesn’t sit well with Osmel Guerra Maynes, the executive director of Q-munity, a group which has also rented space at the library in the past.

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“They should see how this is impacting the trans community. If you’re opening your doors to this, what else are you going to open your doors to?” Maynes adds.

He says Murphy’s views are discriminatory, so she should not be allowed to share them.

“What you’re saying is hurting our community,” he adds. “A community that, at this point in time, is it trying to not be erased. Protect trans lives.”

He’s also telling NEWS1130 the response from the VPL’s chief librarian is hypocritical.

“We don’t promote hate, but yet you’re bringing that into your own hallways. Are you against this stand or are you kind of, ‘Oh, someone paid for it, so it’s okay.’ No. I think it’s hypocritical.”

Meanwhile, de Castell says library staff understand protesters may show up to demonstrate against Murphy on January 10th, but that’s also an example of free speech being exercised.