FREQUENTLY, I read fellow columnists in this newspaper and journalists writing about “culture wars”. The phrase is rarely defined and often employed to avoid addressing the detailed arguments of feminists who want to defend rights based on biological sex and LGB people who wish to defend their legal right to be same-sex attracted.

If you are sick of this issue and want to stop reading at this point, please don’t and instead try to conjure up a picture of how you would feel if your right to discuss and campaign for independence was under attack and you were stopped from speaking out to defend it or from meeting with others who are like-minded.

READ MORE: Adult Human Female screening cancelled for second time as activists block entrance

Imagine how you would feel if you were prevented from going to a screening of one of the Nation films by Lesley Riddoch and Al McMaster. Even worse, try to imagine how you would feel if you were bullied out of your job and the means of earning a living because of your beliefs.

The history of totalitarianism from fascist Germany to Stalin and Putin’s Russia certainly shows us that the demonisation of one’s opponents can be an effective weapon against rational argument and free speech. But is this really where we want Scotland to be?

On Wednesday night at the University of Edinburgh, women were prevented for a second time from meeting to view and discuss a film called Adult Human Female. It is a documentary which looks at the clash between women’s rights and trans ideology.

It challenges the idea that it is harmless for men to identify as women and that it is progressive to modify the bodies of young people in the name of changing their gender. The film features several leading feminists and lesbians including three dear friends of mine.

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Dr Shereen Benjamin is a senior lecturer in primary education at Edinburgh University. Shereen is a Jewish lesbian and a dedicated trade unionist and Labour Party member who has been a human rights activist since the 1980s.

Lucy Masoud is a black lesbian who survived the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub back in 1999, in which her girlfriend was seriously injured. This was an attack by a neo-Nazi on same-sex attracted people drinking in a gay bar. Three people were killed. We will mark the 24th anniversary this weekend.

Lucy went on to be a firefighter involved at Grenfell and she is now a barrister who frequently represents women who have suffered male violence.

READ MORE: 'We feel alone': Transgender students speak out over Adult Human Female screening

Jo Phoenix, also a lesbian, and a former dean of Durham University was a Professor of Criminology at the Open University (OU) until a public campaign of harassment made her work life unbearable. She is now taking the OU to an employment tribunal because, she alleges, they sanctioned and enabled a campaign of harassment and vilification of her on account of her views on sex and gender.

In the film Shereen, Lucy and Jo speak of how important it is to be heard about their lesbian identity and experience.

The mob that stopped other women from seeing them do so on Wednesday appeared to consist of an awful lot of white, straight men. Many covered their faces with masks or presented in women’s clothing and make-up while howling their hate with unmistakable male voices and aggression. But, hey ho, it’s OK to see women, many of them in their 50s and above, subjected to misogyny and ageism if it is in the name of a culture war.

As the mob prevailed, Edinburgh University tweeted about how it was flying a flag for Lesbian Visibility Week and about what an inclusive environment the university is. It would be laughable if it wasn’t such a tragedy and a scandal to see the university of our capital city, the home of the Enlightenment, brought so low.

I am a graduate of Edinburgh University and I am ashamed of its failure to facilitate freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and academic freedom. University College London managed to show the film, notwithstanding a protest and its Professor Alice Sullivan has rightly posed the question of what underlies Edinburgh’s failure to do so. She asks whether it is cowardice, misogyny, incompetence or all three? I shall certainly be following up those questions with the university authorities.

Earlier this week at Westminster I chaired a meeting where three women from the field of the arts and academia told MPs and peers about the experiences of losing their livelihoods because they dared to stand up against an ideology which seeks to erase the reality of women’s experience and the right of LGB people to be same-sex not same-gender attracted.

Rosie Kay, a multi-award-winning dancer and choreographer and Scottish-born star of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was forced to resign from her own dance company after she was formally accused of transphobia by some of her dancers following remarks she made about the difference between sex and gender at a dinner party in her own home. After resigning, she found that her ability to earn a living was severely curtailed.

READ MORE: Edinburgh University bosses 'disappointed' following Adult Human Female cancellation

Denise Fahmy worked for the UK’s biggest arts quango as a grants officer for 15 years. She blew the whistle on them for alleged homophobia and discrimination when a grant to make a film about the changes experienced by gay men during the late Queen’s reign was withdrawn from the LGB Alliance when some quango staff complained about the fact that the charity advocates exclusively for same-sex-attracted people. Denise believes she was targeted as a result of calling this discrimination out and is taking her case to an employment tribunal.

Dr Laura Favaro is an academic who has been researching silencing, discrimination and harassment against female academics who raise questions about gender identity theory, including those who are gender critical. As a consequence, she has been ostracised, subjected to false complaints, had her research stopped, her research data taken away, and lost her job. She is also taking her university to an employment tribunal.

Politicians have a responsibility not to feed the flames of this “war”. When they tell women that their views are “not valid” or make unfounded allegations of bigotry, transphobia, racism, or whatever pejorative comes to hand then they make things worse, not better.

They also elide the real issues when they claim “both sides” are as bad as the other. You won’t find gender-critical politicians standing beside signs demanding the violent death of trans people.

And I defy you to find me a case in Scotland or the UK where a trans person has lost their livelihood for refusing to espouse the belief that sex is a material reality or where trans people have been prevented for coming together to view a film or have a discussion about their experiences.

Recently an event featuring trans activists Katy Montgomerie and Grace Lavery went ahead at Edinburgh University. There was no attempt to stop it by feminists or lesbians despite the fact that both speakers have frequently attacked our views. Mob rule and the heckler’s veto is a tactic of only one side of this debate.

If there is a war going on in our culture it’s a war against women’s rights, the rights of same-sex-attracted people, artistic and academic freedom and the rights of freedom of belief, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. This should concern us all.