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.

By agreeing to go back to the drawing board with the EHRC’s help, the vice-chancellors’ organisation appeared to have headed off the prospect of a legal challenge from the official watchdog.

There: the Telegraph described UUK properly: it’s “the vice-chancellors’ organization”; it’s not the representative of the universities.

Its controversial guidance   to universities across Britain said segregation could be acceptable as   long as men and women were seated side by side rather than with women at the back.

It also said that any event where some segregation took place for religious reasons should also provide a separate, non-segregated area.

Mr Hammond said: “Equality law permits gender segregation in premises that are permanently or temporarily being used for the purposes of an organised religion where its doctrines require it.

“However, in an academic meeting or in a lecture open to the public it is not, in the commission’s view, permissible to segregate by gender.”

What we said all along. Public meeting or debate or lecture. That’s what the “guidance” was about and that’s what we disagreed with so strongly.

The EHRC’s announcement came after UUK’s chief executive insisted gender segregation was not completely “alien” in British life.

Nicola Dandridge said: “It’s not something which is so alien to our culture that it has to be regarded like race segregation, which is totally different and it’s unlawful and there’s no doubt about that whatsoever.

“This is about ensuring that everyone has the right to sit where they want, including those who wish to sit in separate areas.”

You know…Dandridge really ought to stop saying that. She’s not thinking it through. (Why the hell not? Since it is after all her specialty?) She is forgetting that “those who wish to sit in separate areas” can include those who wish to sit in areas with no Jews / blacks / foreigners / dalits / you name it. This attempt to control and purify and sanitize public spaces from the pollution of filthy Others is at the heart of racism and all its cognates. It’s the direct opposite of equality and as such it is not a “right”. She might as well claim that white people have a right to swim in separate municipal swimming pools.




  1. elyss says

    I too noticed the Telegraph’s correct description of whom UUK represents. It’s a shame that UUK didn’t correct all those incorrect attributions that have been flying around. I suspect they are already regretting trying to appear more influential than they are.

    The statement that really wound me up today is the very brief one from UUK’s own website here:

    “Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “Universities UK agrees entirely with the prime minister that universities should not enforce gender segregation on audiences at the request of guest speakers. However, where the gender segregation is voluntary, the law is unclear. We are working with our lawyers and the EHRC to clarify the position.

    Meanwhile the case study which triggered this debate has been withdrawn pending this review.”

    Does that sound anything at all like that which has gone before? Not that it makes sense either. If it’s not enforced at the request of the speaker (as they claim they meant all along – what happened to his/her freedom of speech? – and any segregation can only be voluntary, then it’s up to the audience and what the speaker wants is of no concern, so why even ask him/her in the first place? So I fail to see what the law then has to do with a bunch of people milling about in a hall somewhere deciding where they want to sit.

    One other thing I suspect is that the milling bunch is as likely to self-segregate, accidentally or otherwise, as the H and O atoms in a glass of water are.

  2. Shatterface says

    his is about ensuring that everyone has the right to sit where they want, including those who wish to sit in separate areas

    I think she needs psychiatric help.

    These speakers aren’t going to be satisfied with voluntary segregation for part of the audience while the rest mix together. That’s not what they’re demanding, they’re making segregation a condition of their attendance.

    Dandridge is offering a compromise that won’t satisfy the mysogynists and certainly won’t satisfy feminists.

    She’s utterly incompetent and should be sacked. No pissing around making excuses that she’s just speaking on behalf of her employer, just tell her to clear her desk and fuck the fuck off.

  3. says

    Aggggh this business about “voluntary” segregation is driving me nuts – THERE IS NO SUCH THING. Yes, people can choose to try to clump together, but as soon as they tell the “wrong” kind of person not to sit near them, IT IS NO LONGER VOLUNTARY.

    Fatima Barkatulla was just pushing the same bullshit on Radio 4’s PM, and it is BULLSHIT.

  4. Scr... Archivist says

    How about we all agree that we don’t want Nicola Dandridge to sit in the same building as any of us. That’s a fair kind of segregation, isn’t it?

  5. gheathen says

    Easy there:-) I was only unpicking the Dandridge’s logic, not accepting that it was in any way actually logical.

    Shatterface is right – the woman should just fuck right off from the public arena (not that I’m trying to force segregation on her of course!)

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