THEY certainly didn’t look or sound like men, and they weren’t exactly shaped like men. But a group of women insisted they had every right to swim in Hampstead’s male-only pool, in North London.
Tempers were hotter than Monday’s sunshine as they arrived, en masse, and jumped into the water as part of a protest against proposed gender laws.
One even donned a bushy beard, while another swam in a lime mankini, a fun, male version of a bikini, to illustrate their point that they “identified” as men.
But regulars at the pond failed to see the funny side, and neither did the police, who were called to sort out the dispute.
As promptly as they could, the cops escorted the women out, amid fears that they could be breaching the peace.
The invasion was part of a nationwide campaign set up on Mumsnet called #ManFriday, which encourages women to “self-identify” as men on Fridays, in a protest against possible changes to gender laws.
Campaigners say changes to the Gender Recognition Act could enable people, simply, to declare themselves to be a man or woman to get all the legal rights of either sex.
Amy Desir, 30, who wore the mankini and led the protest group of some 20 women, said: “We are here to raise awareness. There’s a legal consultation due to come out this summer, asking for the law to change to say that any man, who says he is a woman, can get all the legal protections that women do.”
The mother of two, and her fellow-campaigners, are concerned that the proposed legislation would enable predatory men to target women in single-sex facilities.
Hampstead has three ponds for swimming: one for men, one for women and one mixed. And to cater for transgender women, the women’s pond changed its rules last December to accept men, who say they identify as female.
The protesters told staff at the pond that they “identified as male” and insisted they had the right to swim there.
Fifteen minutes later, their demo was sunk because the police arrived, and they were forced to leave. But at least they had made their point.
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