Advice from robots

Since Maryam saved the original UUK guidance, I’m reading pages 27 and 28 again for the nostalgia. It read as if it had been written by a robot.

The segregation request is not yet in the public domain but the students’ union has an active feminist society which is likely to protest against the segregation request. Other societies are likely to express similar concerns. The event is also due to take place a few days after a number of campus-based activities to coincide with International Women’s Day.

See what I mean? A robot or an extra-terrestrial. There – might – be – some – groups – who – would – not – like – the – idea – of – segregations – by – sex – at – a – public – event – at – a – university. Ya think??? [Read more...]

Who sits where

Kate Maltby on the gender segregation dispute.

I spent much of Tuesday afternoon shivering outside the offices of Universities UK. I was there to protest their publication of guidelines which suggest segregated seating of men and women may be legally required where guest speakers demand it. It’s reassuring to learn that protest sometimes works: by Friday, the beleaguered body had shifted their position twice within 24 hours, thanks in part to criticism by Michael Gove and David Cameron. [Read more...]

Shoulder to shoulder to shoulder

There was a new comment yesterday on Nicola Dandridge’s November 25 blog post about the gender segregation bit of Universities UK’s guidance on external speakers. The new comment is by Jane Kelly, who went to the protest.

Seats For Women!
On Tuesday 10th December  I joined  ex Muslims from One Law For All, and various secular groups to attend a demonstration outside 20 Tavistock Square,against sexual segregation at lectures and debates. My mother laughed heartily at the thought of me going on a demo, something I have not done for thirty years, not since I was supporting Polish Solidarnoc. I promised her I would resist knocking off any police helmets.

The demo was for a cause which should get the attention of anyone interested in basic, long held principles of equality. Astonishingly sexual apartheid has just been allowed by UUK, the body which represents university Deans and faculties. [Read more...]

Maltby and Barkatulla on PM

Radio 4′s afternoon news program PM had the UUK-gender segregation story as its lead item, and then its first in-depth story. The talking heads were Kate Maltby, a Christian and a PhD student at UCL, and Fatima Barkatulla of Seeds of Change which (PM failed to say) is part of iERA.

Barkatulla pushed the UUK line that it’s voluntary, with extra added “live and let live” and “religious Muslim women just want a space.”

But that’s all nonsense. You can’t have separate space in a public auditorium or class room or lecture hall without keeping the “wrong” people out, so it can’t be voluntary. [Read more...]

Those who wish to sit in separate areas

The Telegraph has the skinny on what the Equality and Human Rights Commission thinks of the gender segregation issue.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced it will help re-write guidance, published by Universities UK (UUK) last month, which said Muslim societies and other groups were entitled to practice gender segregation at public meetings on campus.

Mark Hammond, the EHRC’s chief executive, said gender segregation was “not   permissible” under equalities laws, adding that UUK’s guidance required clarification. [Read more...]

The assertion of religious political power

The Telegraph reported on the gender segregation protest.

Maryam Namazie, a researcher at the University of London and one of the organisers of the event, said that she has noticed a rise of Islamism across UK Universities that is not truly representing the views of most Muslims.   She said: “In the UUK’s efforts to be inclusive they are encouraging sexism and endorsing discrimination.

“It’s about free speech and its about Islamists imposing their rules and projecting women as symbols of chaos in society.”  [Read more...]

Nicola Dandridge speaks

I’ve just been listening to Today’s Today programme on UUK and gender segregation. I’ve got to run off so will post later but there it is for your listening pleasure fury. It starts just before 2 hrs 10.

I find Dandridge simply astonishing. I can hardly believe what I’m hearing. Fortunately Justin Webb sounds almost as incredulous as I am, and he keeps pushing back.

Jack Straw is very definite about what he thinks.

The BBC and everyone really needs to stop saying UUK represents UK universities, because (if David Colqhoun is right, and I think he would know) it doesn’t, it represents the vice-chancellors, not the universities. That does make a difference.

Dandridge actually seems to think that not acceding to an external speaker’s demand that the audience be segregated by gender is a violation of free speech. She certainly says that.

‘Have the people who are likely to come to this event agreed to the segregation?’

The BBC reports on UUK’s statement.

Universities UK says it has today requested legal clarification from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

In a letter, Universities UK which represents 132 institutions, has asked the Commission to consider having the issue clarified by the High Court, “or provide a clear and public statement about the law and the relevant policy considerations”.

The row over the UUK guidance has sparked protests from students and some MPs. [Read more...]

UUK speaks at last

Universities UK has issued a press release on the gender segregation issue.

Statement from Universities UK:

Universities UK’s publication External speakers in higher education institutions aims to provide guidance to institutions in managing the process for inviting external speakers onto campus, both in terms of upholding principles of free speech, and also complying with the law. It was produced with significant input from a range of organisations and individuals (referenced in the full report) as well as extensive legal advice. [Read more...]