Right, so UCL ended up banning an organisation of Islamists from holding debates after they attempted to enforce gender segregation at an event they hosted using the university’s facilities http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/15/ucl-bans-islamic-group-over-segregation . Since then, Universities UK has come up with a judgement about segregation policies at universities, and shock horror they’ve shown all the cognitive abilities of anencephalic sea sponges.
I quote the petition page on Avaaz for some of the more alarming bits of the nonsense that has come to be espoused by them.
“Universities UK (UUK) has issued guidance on external speakers saying that the segregation of the sexes at universities is not discriminatory as long as “both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.”
UUK add that universities should bear in mind that “concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system” and that if “imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely-held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.”
I wonder if they’ll say the same about discrimination on racial lines; the fact there is no evidence to support that proposition but there is evidence to support the notion that they will endorse segregation by gender has well and truly been provided; that tells us everything we need to know – that it is ok to treat people differently by the fruits of their karyotypes but discrimination by skin colour is taboo. The case for me illustrates two major biases; sexism at first and secondly, religious privilege.
The rampant sexism involved in segregation by gender here is trivially simple to observe, the other point though has major problems associated with it and the implementation of the whole policy dreamt up in careless fashion by the powers-that-be at Universities UK is going to be quite tricky, even if in some parallel universe by dint of dictionary gymnastics it weren’t sexist;
I shall quote the relevant bits again;
“and that if “imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely-held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.”
So just believing in a deity gives you the right to trample over the rights of those who don’t claim divine sanction for beliefs that are equally well grounded at the very least, and way better at best; I wonder what will happen if some of us turn up having had a spontaneous revelation of our own from the god of egalitarianism and being segregated would be an affront to our genuinely held “religious” beliefs. Do these people have any ability to think straight at all? What if someone had similarly strongly held religious beliefs calling for racial segregation, or homophobic segregation?
The insinuation is that somehow religious beliefs are to be privileged over non-religious ones. Of course, looking further at the quote; not only do they suggest that segregation is permissible, but also suggest that the provision of an unsegregated area is *also* at the discretion of the hosts, which would, even if there were some kind of religious right to segregation to be granted legitimately, would still trample over the rights of those that don’t want segregation just because the former is religiously motivated.
There is a petition going round on Avaaz calling for Universities UK to rescind their ill-conceived erroneous vomitings laden with the toxic fruits of religious bigotry and privilege, and if you care about pushing back I think you should sign it too, here;
Update: Universities UK has come up a statement in its defence, saying they do not condone gender segregation, and the guidelines were part of a case study recommending how universities may, subject to their own autonomy, accommodate the wishes of sexist bigots should they end up speaking at universities while not getting into trouble with the law; the implications of this statement extend further than to Universities UK as a consequence – that the law privileges bigotry to the point that some of the feasible solutions proposed by UUK (i.e, the stuff mentioned above) are legally permissible or necessitated by the way British laws are. We’ve gone from a “UUK messes up” situation to a “legal loophole needs dealing with” situation; not sure if that makes things even worse.
The statement is to be found here http://blog.universitiesuk.ac.uk/2013/11/25/external-speakers-guidance-segregation/