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  • Writer's pictureNorwich Quaker Meeting

Elders’ statement in response to the petition to stop Norwich Quakers hiring out meeting

We note the posting of this petition and the accompanying explanation. The explanation contains inaccuracies and misrepresentations, a number of which we have already addressed in our account, published on our website, of the conflict following the WPUK meeting. Our document contains nothing about our agreeing or not agreeing to any further request from WPUK to hire a room at the Friends Meeting House, as stated in the blurb.

The petition’s author, Poppy Rose, was herself one of those who responded to our invitation to come and speak to us as an individual who supports the proposed change to the GRA. Notes were taken of all speakers’ presentations and these were subsequently sent to the speakers for amendment if they wished. All the other speakers either confirmed the accuracy of what had been noted or provided us with their own notes. Poppy Rose, however, did not respond so it was understood that she was content with the notes that were taken of what she said. Her assertion that many of the quotes given in our statement are misleading or wrong is therefore entirely unjustified; and, contrary to her statement that figures were given with no reference, one speaker cited The Health Service Journal, as we reported.

We do not consider that any of the speakers at the WPUK meeting incited hatred against trans people, or that anything in our account does so. The petition’s author alleges incitement to hatred but does not specify a single example, other than the toilet directions which were, indeed, challenged by Quakers in writing immediately following the meeting, as set out in our document.

Seven people got in touch with the Friends Meeting House after the meeting to object to its having been allowed. On publication of our report, many neutral people took to social media to thank Quakers and commend our approach to the subsequent conflict. One of those who contacted us directly wrote, for example, “I just want to say how grateful I am that you all went to such lengths to fairly and reasonably investigate the issue”.

As we acknowledge in our account, transphobia certainly exists in society and is pernicious. This makes it all the sadder that an element in the LGBT+ community insists on interpreting any discussion or perspective other than their own as transphobic, where nothing hateful is expressed or intended. Their unwillingness to enter into exchanges of views as to how the safety of all sexually vulnerable and oppressed groups might be ensured is unconstructive.

Debate, understanding and justice are ill-served by attempts at bullying.

Elders of Norwich Local Quaker Meeting 16.0320

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