BHA welcomes Equality and Human Rights Commission guidelines on gender segregation

By British Humanist Association

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have today published new guidelines on gender segregation in meetings and events after Universities UK (UUK) were forced to pull guidance they had issued which endorsed gender segregation at university events. The new guidance ‘Gender Segregation at Events and Meetings: Guidance for Universities and Student Unions’. The new guidelines clearly state ‘Universities and students’ unions must not knowingly facilitate discrimination by others at the request of an external speaker or an individual attending or wishing to attend an event’ The British Humanist Association(BHA) and National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) who condemned the UUK guidelines and submitted evidence to the EHRC have welcomed the EHRC guidelines as the correct and proper interpretation of the law.

In November 2013 Universities UK (UUK), the umbrella organisation for UK academic institutions published a report which endorsed gender segregation at university events. The report, entitled ‘External speakers in higher education institutions’, set out guidance for academic institutions for managing controversial visiting speakers. However, the report also stated that the segregation of the sexes at universities was not discriminatory as long as ‘both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.’ The new EHRC guidance which takes into account universities legal obligations to secure freedom of speech under both the Human Rights Act (Article 10) and the Education Act 1986 states;

‘Students’ unions are obliged to protect freedom of speech under education law and act in accordance with anti-discrimination duties under equality law. These obligations apply to their activities on the premises they occupy permanently or temporarily within and outside the university establishment. These legal obligations are also likely to apply to activities carried out in premises otherwise unconnected with the students’ union or the university but which are occupied by associations affiliated to students’ unions. Students’ unions maintain their own protocols and policies regarding meetings.

6 COMMENTS

  1. My first thought was: Why did it take so long?

    … the report also stated that the segregation of the sexes at universities was not discriminatory as long as ‘both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way

    To segregate means to separate, or set apart. In this context that can only mean that the EHRC is advocating ghettos. I’d like to hear how they square that with their remit.

    This is, in any case, a stupid rule.

    If two hundred women and five men attend a presentation, and the men are told they can only sit in a segregated part of the auditorium is that equality, is the right of those present to free association being defended and honoured?

    Perhaps my example didn’t mean anything to you? What if we were talking of two hundred Jews and five Muslims? Two hundred black people and five whites?

    It seems to me this rule can only work if an event is attended by roughly equal numbers of people who are ready to self-identify with a group. But what about people like me who identify with multiple groups? What about people who are not ready to come out?

    This rule is obviously the EHRC trying to have its cake and eat it too.

    The EHRC have shed some much needed light on this issue, yet have also muddied the waters.

  2. The herd have muddied the waters? Yes that is what happens when you bend over backwards to try to appease everyone and end up helping no one. To spell it out for these weak minded fools, there cannot be any form of segregation based on gender just to appease religious retards.

  3. I’ve been to many events and the idea of segregating an event sickens me. Although there is several events that I wouldn’t go because there target audience isn’t me (women’s health events, religious events, cultural or racial events targeting specific groups, etc). Here your not refused at the door to enter and join in just because your not the target audience (I.e. A black rights meeting wouldn’t and shouldn’t stop a white person from entering… just be prepared to be stared at as the “odd man” out.) What does bother me here in America is the vast number of exclusive colleges that frown on people of various races religions and genders from joining. We have all women, all black, all catholic, all methodist, all baptist, all you name it colleges and universities all over the USA. These schools discriminate against all sorts of groups on the basis of gender, religion, and race. They are not forced to conform to antidiscrimination laws because they claim to be assisting minorities to receive education, but many of these schools are not accredited and there education values are considered sub par. I think they are a failure to our society since those who go to these institutions usually are not warned that there degrees are going to be questioned and their education is going to considered faulty since they went a school that is considered sub par.

    Segregation is the worst concept man has come up with in the last century and should be stopped at every level. Even in the place of private institutions that by their own admission are segregated.

  4. I really don’t know what British Humanists are coming to these days. Despite the mealy-mouth justification this just looks like Islamification by stealth. In this way it is a betrayal of the principles of the Enlightenment, the priniciples of which Humanism is supposed to be built on.

    • harry ;

      I really don’t know what British Humanists are coming to these days. Despite the mealy-mouth justification this just looks like Islamification by stealth.

      Sorry harry, I don’t follow your line of reason. From what I read it is the British Humanist Association which is objecting to the “Islamification by stealth”. Did I read it wrong ?

  5. If the guest speaker insisted on segregation before he (AND IT’S ALWAYS A HE) would speak, then I would refuse to attend. I would encourage a general boycott of the speaker as well. This is 2014, not 600 AD and in this modern civilized world, 51% of the planet’s population are equal with the minority 49%, in all rights, privileges, everything you can think of. No discrimination. Ever.

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