A rape crisis centre in Canada has had its funding cut after it refused to allow men who say they are women to use some of its services.
Opened in 1973, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is Canada’s oldest rape crisis centre, and it prohibits men from its premises in order to protect women who use its services.
Vancouver City Council says the centre will receive no more funding until it accommodates men who identify as women.
The centre says it is the victim of “discrimination against women in the name of inclusion”.
It said the council’s decision to deny funding was an attempt to “coerce us to change our position”, and accused the council of trying to “undermine our autonomy as a women’s group”.
The centre was told it must demonstrate “accommodation, welcomeness and openness to people of all ages, abilities… and ethnicities”.
But it pointed out that other organisations which serve specific groups, such as Aboriginal youth, Chinese seniors, deaf persons and migrant workers, “rightfully” do not have to match this brief.
Spokeswoman Hilla Kerner confirmed the centre would not change its position that it provides services specifically for biological women.
“Most of our services are based on that principle. Our consciousness raising work, our support group, our peer counselling work and that means that some of our services are not available to people who are not born female”.
She added that their rape crisis phone line was available to all, regardless of sex.