Geneva calls in police over transgender talk no platforming

Protesters who disrupted gender theory book talk accuse university of ‘repression’ after criminal complaint lodged

May 25, 2022
Geneva, Switzerland - September 5, 2020 Street side facade of the Uni Bastions site of the University of Geneva, which hosts the faculty of Protestant Theology and the faculty of Letters.
Source: iStock

The University of Geneva will file a criminal complaint against protesters who disrupted a recent book talk, prompting accusations of “repression” from its student union.

The talk at the university by Éric Marty, professor at Paris Diderot University – Paris 7, was disrupted by protesters against his book, The Sex of the Moderns.

In a statement, the university said the protesters “crossed two red lines by attacking academic freedom and resorting to physical and verbal violence”, adding that it did not know whether students were among the activists.

The University of Geneva’s rector, Yves Flückiger, told the local Tribune de Genève newspaper that he feared “a form of self-censorship” after a department director was prevented from speaking at the event.

“People who fear books have never been on the right side of history. We need critical approaches, dialogue. No burnings,” he told the paper.

Professor Flückiger, who is also president of the Swiss rectors’ conference Swissuniversities, said it was the first time the university had filed a criminal complaint in such a case.

The student union said the decision to file a criminal complaint was a “paradigm shift” and a “repression” of the accused students and activists.

It said Professor Marty’s book was “really about reducing the existence of transgender people both to the status of a vague concept, and at the same time presenting them as being a danger to cisgender women”.

In its statement, the university said any students involved in the disruption could face exclusion.

ben.upton@timeshighereducation.com

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