'It's not the moment to hear him': University trans activist defends Nadhim Zahawi protest

1 June 2022, 10:32 | Updated: 1 June 2022, 10:42

By Tim Dodd

Warwick University Students Union's LGBT+ Officer has defended a protest against the hosting of a talk by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, where students chanted “Zahawi is a transphobe” and “Tory scum”.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi was heckled by LGBT+ protesters outside a talk he gave to Warwick University's Conservative Association.

Members of Trans Action Warwick shouted "Tory scum" outside the talk on Friday, and waved flags and placards stating "Trans rights are human rights".

The Telegraph reported that one protester had struck one member of the university's Conservative Association on the head, although they were uninjured, while Mr Zahawi was ushered away by campus security guards.

In a statement issued by Warwick Pride before the talk, they referred to comments made by Mr Zahawi regarding Kathleen Stock, a former lecturer at the University of Sussex who has been criticised for her views on trans rights and left the university following protests against her.

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Nick Ferrari asked LGBT+ Officer Noga Levy-Rapoport: "Why would you not at least want to hear what the man has to say?"

Ms Levy-Rapoport replied: "My role is to represent these students and to show that the entire LGBT+ students stand together at this university.

"Zahawi has very clearly expressed his transphobic views. Hearing him out further is not the moment for this to occur.

"Him attending this event and speaking wasn't about LGBT rights, he has been very clear that he is willing to trivialise the detrimental impact of outing LGBT+ youth to their parents, where over 50% of LBGT+ youth have been evicted from their home.

"This is someone who's government has yet to explicitly include trans people in the conversion therapy ban."

Nick Ferrari challenged Ms Levy-Rapoport: "It's not as if he just rocked up. He was invited by some of your fellow students I understand, the university's Conservative Association. He was responding to an invitation, at the very lowest this was a very rude welcome just because you hadn't invited him?"

Ms Levy-Rapoport claimed that there were "several" students who attempted to attend the event and weren't sent tickets as they were "singled out".

"Multiple students were turned away by security because they were simply wearing Pride merch," she said.

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Nick Ferrari said: "What gives you and your colleagues the right to not allow fellow students to hear a speech from someone they sought to invite? What gives you the right to do that?"

"We have a democratic right to protest and disrupt. Sometimes that comes to a case where you need to be loud and clear," Ms Levy-Rapoport replied.

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