PROTESTERS on both sides of the gender recognition reform debate gathered in Glasgow city centre on Sunday.

Gender-critical feminists assembled on the western side of George Square, near Queen Street station, while an LGBT counter-protest stood on the eastern side of the public square.

The anti-gender recognition rally was organised by Standing for Women, a group headed by Posie Parker (also known as Kellie-Jay Keen) while the group Cabaret Against Hate Speech organised the counter-protest.

Both camps were separated by barriers erected by the police which kept the two groups mostly segregated for the duration of Sunday’s demonstrations.

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Gender-critical activists said they were moved to protest because of their opposition to the Scottish Government’s controversial plans to make it easier for people to obtain a gender recognition certificate.

LGBT counter-protesters said they were concerned about the way transgender people were treated in their day-to-day lives and portrayed in the media.

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Annmarie Duffy (above), from Barrhead said she was at the gender-critical protest “for women’s rights”.

The 58-year-old told The National: “I’m here for women’s rights, for my kids, my grandkids to give them a better future – that women will still have rights and they’re not going to erode our rights for someone else’s rights.”

Duffy, who was sporting a Yes badge, said she did not believe the row over transgender rights had damaged the independence movement.

“The independence movement is far bigger than any political agenda, it won’t stop independence,” she said.

But Emma Harley (below), a 28-year-old theatre director, said trans rights did not interfere with women’s rights and described the protest as “anti-trans”.

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She said: “The fact that they’re using historically positive movements like the Suffragist movement and waving their flags, I think it’s just important to show that we’re not who they say we are and just prove them wrong.

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“I would say that they’re setting themselves backwards because a lot of their arguments are based on biology and saying, ‘Women are the birthgivers'.

“As someone who was born and assigned a woman at birth, I don’t want to be prescribed to that, I think it makes being a woman a very prescriptive, small thing and I don’t think that is fair on anyone.”

Arthur Frain (below, right), a 21-year-old student, had travelled around 145 miles from Aberdeen to attend the protest. 

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He said: "The whole thing is trans people want to live, work and die with dignity, full stop - we're not here for anything else, we don't want any extra rights, we don't want special treatment."

Frain added that the tone of the debate and media coverage of the issue made him fear for his safety.  

The spark for Sunday’s protest was the passage of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms – which were blocked from becoming law by Westminster – and the high-profile case of Isla Bryson, a transgender double-rapist.

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Bryson, who attacked two women while living as a man called Adam Graham, was housed in segregation at Cornton Vale, the women’s prison in Stirling before this fact was revealed in the media.

Outrage followed and Bryson was moved to HMP Edinburgh. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was grilled over the case on Wednesday and said Bryson was “almost certainly” pretending to be trans in an attempt to cynically game the prison system.

Bryson’s estranged wife Shonna Graham described the gender change as a “sham”.

Speaking to the crowd on Sunday, Keen told the crowd – which included screenwriter and campaigner Graham Linehan – a “watershed” moment had been reached.

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She said: “Nicola Sturgeon said it would never happen and all of us knew it was already happening and then along came Adam ‘double-rapist’ Graham, who said ‘it absolutely happens all the time and look at me’.

“I just want to thank the SNP for waking up Scotland, and to all the Scottish women and some of you men who have been campaigning about this for the last five years.”

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Keen added: “The watershed is finally here. From this moment on, we are not afraid, we will not be quiet, we will let women speak.”

A representative from the LGBT charity The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence read aloud the Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, telling the crowd: “Rage against the dying of the light – that’s what we have to do here today.

“We do not have to show our rage with insults, we will respect you the more you put us down, we will show you love, because that is what our community is about – showing love, respect and tolerance.

“We will not go gently into that good night, we will be here and we will be dancing."