At Trans Pride in London on 8th July 2023, a speaker was seen addressing the crowd using a PA system. He said: “If you see a TERF, punch them in the fucking face.”
The speech was captured on video by Dazed, and re-posted on the Pride in London Instagram. It has been widely shared on Twitter.
The speaker was Sarah Jane Baker (formerly Alan Baker), a trans-identified male with convictions for torture, kidnapping and attempted murder who was released on licence in 2019.
We have written to the Commissioner of Police Sir Mark Rowley, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Iain Anderson, chair of Stonewall, with this briefing and our concerns about the lack of concern being shown about this incitement to violence.
A premeditated threat
Not only did the speech incite violence; it appears to have been premeditated. In a Facebook post before the Trans Pride event, Baker announced a plan to attend and speak, encouraging followers to arm themselves.
In the preamble to the speech at the event, Baker said: “I was going to come here and be really fluffy and be really nice and say yeah, be really lovely and queer and gay… nah. If you see a TERF, punch them in the fucking face.”
A pattern of escalating behaviour
Barker is a frequent protester against women’s-rights events, for example outside the launch of the Lesbian Project on 25th March 2023 in Camden, and outside the Woman’s Place UK event at University College London on 4th February 2023.
Baker has previously been associated with signs saying “Be Trans Do Crime” and “Kill JK Rowling” at Pride in 2021.
Metropolitan Police response
A Mumsnet user reported the latest incident to the police, and received a response from Acting Police Sergeant Warner saying:
“This is not a hate crime. A TERF is not a protected characteristic under the legislation. A TERF would be a person’s opinion, whether this opinion is viewed as discriminatory in itself or not.
“The female is suggesting (inciting) members of the crowd to punch individuals who act on this belief. This is not targeted at an individual, this is in a hypothetical situation.”
The response cites article 10 of the ECHR – freedom of expression – and suggests that “the most appropriate offence may potentially be a PO s5“ – but in any case states that the report is being closed without further investigation. This afternoon, the Met confirmed to MailOnline that the crime report has now been reopened and “enquiries remain ongoing”.
We have written to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, who gave the Trans Pride event unstinting endorsement, tweeting: “As your Mayor, I will always be on your side.” We are urging him to make an unequivocal statement about the incident at Trans Pride and about the violence and threats against gender-critical women, and to do everything in his power to ensure that the police urgently investigate this matter. We have asked him for a meeting so that we can inform him about the hostility and threats of violence that women and girls face in London.
We have also written to Sir Mark Rowley, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, flagging the Met’s inadequate response to this violent man’s previous activities and underlining our fear that police inaction is making him bolder, and his offences are likely to escalate. The Met’s action plan claims that it wants to “address behaviours and actions which target and harm women”, but that aim doesn’t seem to match the dismissal of threatening and abusive words and behaviour by Sergeant Warner.
We have asked him to apologise for this response, to reopen the investigation and to meet with us and other gender-critical women so he can understand the frequent and often unpoliced threats of violence women faced by women speaking out.
Finally, we have written to Iain Anderson, Stonewall’s Chair of Trustees, who has been saying that he “believes in a big tent” and wants to talk to women’s groups, but seems to have taken no action to do so. On the contrary, Stonewall’s actions – including its complaint to GANHRI about the EHRC Chair, Kishwer Falkner, talking with ‘gender critical’ groups and its silence over Baker’s dangerous incitement to violence and the crowd’s reaction at Trans Pride, an event it participated in – promote an environment of hostility and dehumanisation.
Any reputable charity involved in this event should be unequivocally condemning any calls for violence irrespective of its ideological position, and we have urged Stonewall to do so, and to work with us towards an open and respectful dialogue and an understanding of how women’s and girls’ exercise of free speech is adversely affected by violent threats such as these made at events Stonewall supports.