CLIMATE activist Greta Thunberg has sent a message of support to Edinburgh students who blocked a screening of a film branded “transphobic” by an academic union.

An event organised by the Edinburgh Academics for Academic Freedom group (EAAF) was scheduled on Wednesday night to show a film called Adult Human Female.

The film, which suggests that trans identities are harmful to women’s rights, has been criticised by the university’s Pride society.

Edinburgh University’s branch of the University and College Union (UCU) wrote to the principal ahead of the screening calling for it to be cancelled.

When the university pushed ahead with the event, students occupied the lecture hall where it was due to take place. Police were called to the scene at George Square but no arrests were made.

Organisers decided to move the event to another location after the space was occupied, but protesters also blocked the entrance to the back-up venue. After arguments broke out between attendees and protesters, the screening was eventually cancelled.

EAAF said they were “disappointed” with the result and accused protesters of behaving in a “censorious” manner.

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SNP MP Joanna Cherry, a vocal critic of the Scottish Government’s plans for gender recognition reform, was also among those condemning the activists.

“Is this what my country & my alma mater have come to?” she tweeted. “Entitled students stifling #FreedomofSpeech & silencing women & lesbians who want to talk about their rights? Those who have fostered this authoritarian neo-fascist climate have a lot to answer for.”

Dylan Hamilton, an environmental campaigner, took to social media to defend the actions of the students.

“A screening of a transphobic film was to be held at Edinburgh Uni, we decided that wasn't happening. You don't get to spread hatred and expect to be unchallenged,” he said.

Thunberg, who Hamilton spent time with during last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, sent three love heart emojis to the campaigner in response.

Gender-critical campaigners accused Thunberg of pushing “gender ideology fascism” and being a “queer theory handmaiden” after her message of support.

Reality Matters, the production team behind the film, told The National: "Our response would be to ask Greta two questions. Has [she] seen the film because if she had she would know that at no point does it 'spread hatred'?

"Why does she consider scientific facts to be important in the fight against climate change but easy to ignore when it comes to defining sex?"

On Thursday Jule Bandel, a Green councillor in the city who studies at the university, told The National she had been “appalled” by the screening going ahead.

"As a queer student at the University of Edinburgh and a councillor for this city, I’m appalled that the screening of a film that demonises trans people and spreads harmful myths was given approval on our campus despite opposition from students and staff,” she said.

The university defended the decision to go ahead with the screening after students raised concerns.

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A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: "We stand by our decision to let Edinburgh Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF) hold the screening of 'Adult Human Female'.”

"As part of our commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom, it is our duty to make sure staff and students feel able to discuss controversial topics and that each event allows for debate.

"In line with our commitment to fostering an inclusive, supportive and safe environment for our whole community, we put measures in place to mitigate any risks associated with the event. However, when it became clear that safety could no longer be guaranteed for all present it was decided that the event should not continue.

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"Given the size of our community, it is inevitable that the ideas of different members will conflict. We always encourage respectful debate and discussion whenever there are differences of view or opinion and ensure that attendees of all events are aware of, and comply with, the University's Dignity and Respect Policy, so that those wanting to attend feel able to contribute."

Adult Human Female had already been the subject of protest in Nottingham, where a screening at a church was cancelled after transgender activists held a peaceful protest outside.