BHA condemns

The BHA condemns Universities UK’s guidelines on gender segregation.

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented that ‘Universities are secular institutions, not places of worship, and sex segregation should have no place in secular spaces in which we expect to find equality between men and women.  It would be completely unacceptable if a visiting speaker tried to segregate an audience along racial lines, so sex segregation should be equally unacceptable.  Universities UK have characterised this as a freedom of speech issue, but this is misleading.  A visiting speaker’s right to freedom of speech entitles them to express their political and religious views, but not to impose these views on the audience.’

Damn right. If it’s obviously unacceptable on racial grounds, which it is, why is it acceptable on gender grounds?

It isn’t.



  1. yahweh says

    Such discrimination is actionable in the UK. The university’s advice would not stand in court. Prosecute.

  2. Shatterface says

    The question should be why people who make such demands should be invited to speek in the first place not whether we should be conceding to their demands.

    Freedom of speech is not the same thing as providing a platform for every nutcase. I support free speech but I don’t invite Nazis to lunch.

  3. Argle Bargle says

    A visiting speaker’s right to freedom of speech entitles them to express their political and religious views, but not to impose these views on the audience.

    If a Muslim man doesn’t want to sit next to women then he can sit in the corner by himself. But he should not insist that I, a non-Muslim, abide by his religious prohibitions. Also only certain Muslims demand sexual segregation. Other Muslims have no problems, religious or otherwise, about men and women sitting together.

  4. says

    I don’t think you’ve read much bell hooks if you think racial segregation is totally unacceptable. She had to move to an integrated school halfway through her upbringing. It was jarring and the insulation she had against racism in her previous school vanished.

    I’m not saying thats why gender separation exists now, but there are understandable reasons for wanting segregation sometimes. If it were by request of the students I would be cool with it (even white/male students- I’m sure the rest of us wouldn’t want to be subjected to them anyway).

  5. Shatterface says

    hooks’ problem was that she’d previously been segregated so the problems she suffered later were ultimately due to segregation.

  6. chippanfire says

    Unfortunately, Universities UK may well be correct that this is legal since males and females are both disadvantaged in the same sense, so one group isn’t being discriminated against at the expense of the other.

    From a legal perspective, no-one seems to have considered people who don’t identify as one or other of the “traditional” genders (apologies for the clumsy phrasing) and that may be a line of attack. Another, perhaps more promising legalistic approach might be if discrimination occurs during the event in treatment of one or other of the two sexes, e.g. the speaker ignores or is abusive to one or other group or only answers questions from one side or one group has reasonable grounds to feel intimidated. Given the kind of speaker who’ll want segregation then these are distinctly possible scenarios albeit potentially difficult to evidence. On reading the guidance Universities UK have produced I don’t see that they have properly considered these possibilities.

    Hopefully the protest Maryam mentioned can get the job done more quickly and effectively.

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