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Statement from Amnesty International UK Section following protests that took place outside a conference organised by the charity FiLiA at the Guildhall in Portsmouth on 16/17 October 2021

Amnesty International UK did not organise any protests at the FiLiA conference in Portsmouth which took place on 16 and 17 October 2021.

We have a long history of campaigning against violence against women and this continues to be a vital part of our work.

We are equally committed to campaigning for the rights of transgender people to live freely, authentically, and openly, and to have their gender legally recognised without having to go through a dehumanising, long and costly procedure. 

Amnesty International has clear guidelines on how we campaign.  We will only support protests by any individuals, groups or communities which are in line with Amnesty’s core values, including not using or advocating violence, hatred or discrimination while protesting; and that the protests themselves should be consistent with international human rights law and standards.    

We were approached by the organisers of a Fly the Flag event in Portsmouth at the weekend, who requested that we supply materials which reflect Amnesty International UK’s campaigning positions on the LGBTQ human rights.  Two sets of placards were sent.  One set of signs stated the slogan “I AM WHO I SAY I AM: Amnesty International”.  The second set of signs stated the slogan “LOVE IS A HUMAN RIGHT: Amnesty International”.  The organiser of the Fly the Flag event stated that their protest would be respectful and celebratory and that she would seek dialogue with delegates to the conference.   We were happy to support the Fly the Flag event in this way. However, the event was not an official Amnesty International UK event and a sign that was displayed describing this as an official Amnesty International UK protest event was incorrect.

We have investigated events from the weekend.  There were several separate groups holding events and protests outside the Guildhall in Portsmouth.   Our understanding remains the case that the Fly the Flag Event was respectful and appropriate and was not connected with the threatening and aggressive language and images that were present in other parts of Guildhall Square that weekend.  Photographs of the threatening and aggressive language and images displayed by other protestors present at the Guildhall have been shared with us and we are shocked by it.  We recognise that the FiLiA conference was attended by a number of women who have been the victims of violence and harassment.  Amnesty International UK believes there should have been absolutely no place for the use of any threatening or aggressive language or imagery towards any of the attendees of that conference, or indeed towards any women.