The Alba Party claims its roadshow on independence “beat a last-minute ban” at Aberdeen University by taking its meeting outside.
The meeting, to discuss The Wee Alba Book with former first minister Alex Salmond, was cancelled by the student association – just a few hours before it was due to take place.
Alba insists the room booking was scrapped after supporters of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms objected to the event.
Aberdeen University says it is aware the Student Association’s Golf Club cancelled a planned event on Friday evening, stressing it was not a university event.
‘Sinister attack on freedom of speech’
Mr Salmond said: “The attempt to cancel a meeting on The Wee Alba Book in Aberdeen University on Friday night represents a sinister attack on freedom of speech.
“There is a small group of activists stretching across Scotland and the UK who think it OK to disrupt meetings or cancel individuals via social media if anyone just might disagree with them on the issue of the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).
“Their targets have ranged recently from Joanna Cherry MP to J.K. Rowling.”
The Alba Party has called on the legislation to be paused and the controversial issue to be further discussed at a citizens assembly.
Mr Salmond added: “Ironically, the meeting was about the new case for independence and the Wee Alba book which makes no direct mention of the GRA.
“Indeed I have personally spoken at seven Alba public meetings on independence this week around Scotland and the subject has not even been raised.
“Those who bow to this pressure like the [Aberdeen] University Students Association are more culpable.
“Have they never heard of the role of universities in enshrining freedom of speech?”
‘Booking cancelled due to proximity of council elections’
The event was moved outside, with about 60 people in attendance.
There were three protestors, who asked a “perfectly reasonable question”.
“Indeed it demonstrated why dialogue beats bans anytime, anywhere,” Mr Salmond said.
The event was organised by the Alba Party who had booked a room with the Student Association Golf Club.
A University of Aberdeen spokeswoman said: “The university is aware that the Student Association’s Golf Club cancelled a planned event within one of our buildings on campus on Friday evening.”
Alisa Koester, Aberdeen University Student Association (AUSA) student president, said: “AUSA fully supports the Golf Club’s decision to withdraw their backing for last evening’s event. We believe it would be highly inappropriate for AUSA or the university to host an event promoting a single political party so close to council elections.
“AUSA stands in full solidarity with the trans community who raised concerns about the event. Our campus should be a safe place where all our students feel welcome.”
A spokesman for the AUSA Golf Club, said: “We did not have a full understanding of the political nature of the event at the time of booking, and would not have submitted the request had we had a clear understanding of the situation.
“The golf club is a sports club for students to enjoy one of the most popular sports in Scotland.
“We do not hold any political affiliation and will look more thoroughly at our approach to bookings going forward.
“We’d like to apologise to anyone affected by this.”