From Elsewhere: ‘Jim Crow’ type rules coming to British universities?
Imagine a university or a representative body of British universities agreeing to a policy like this:
“No black person shall sit with a white person. If someone with a genuine religious belief objects to there being black and white people mixing then that persons view shall be respected and segregation imposed. We have examined our diversity and multiculturalism policies and come to the conclusion that having whites on one side of the room and non-whites on the other doesn’t contravene our duty to educate people equally. People will be seen as separate but equal…..”
Of course such an appalling racist and openly discriminatory policy would never be introduced by a British university, because it is plain to see that ‘separate but equal’ really is nothing of the sort. It is naked racism of the worst kind, that any reasonable person should oppose. However, when it comes to gender British universities seem all too keen on imposing hateful and discriminatory conditions not unlike the extreme parody above. A version of the ‘Jim Crow’ laws that applied at the time when segregation was the policy of some parts of the United States, but this time these rules focussing on gender.
It is with anger I greet the news that there are moves to legitimise the segregation by gender of audiences in lecture theatres when the person speaking has a well founded religious belief that gender segregation is required.
The Harry’s Place blog says that if this policy is accepted then the words ‘you can’t sit there, you are a woman!’ will become commonplace in British universities.
Harry’s Place said:
“If the new guidelines by Universities UK, an organisation representing the leadership of UK universities, are adopted, this is a phrase that might become not uncommon to hear at UK universities.
The attempts of extreme religious speakers and organisations to impose gender segregation and the harmful effects of such policies on students have been well documented. In March, University College London banned the Islamist organisation iERA from its premises after it tried to physically impose a gender segregated seating order on the audience of an event called “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?”.
Now, it appears that organisations like the iERA will get their attempts to forcibly segregate men and women officially sanctioned. On November 22nd, Universities UK, which calls itself “The voice of UK Universities”, issued new guidelines on external speakers in higher education institutions. In a shocking reinterpretation of the segregationist “separate but equal” slogan of long-gone regimes, the document states that “assuming the side-by-side segregated seating arrangement is adopted, there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating. Both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.” Notably, the guidelines make it clear that not only voluntary self-segregation would be permissible, but also the imposition of a seating order through forceful means, telling students where to sit, and next to whom.
In what appears to be a deliberate misinterpretation of existing equality legislation, the organisation also claims “segregation in the context of the facts outlined above would only be discriminatory on the grounds of sex if it amounts to ‘less favourable treatment’ of either female or male attendees.” Incredibly, this posits that treating someone differently because of his or her gender, telling them that certain students cannot sit next to certain others, would not amount to discrimination. In what seems to border at the absurd, the organisation indeed says that “an act of indirect discrimination can be ‘objectively justified’ if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. According to Universities UK, forced gender segregation is thus “legitimate”. “
You can bet your bottom dollar that this demand for segregation by gender will not stop at cases of particular lectures and appeasement of the Islamic groups behind this attempt at gender apartheid will only embolden them to make further demands. If this policy is accepted, then segregation would start to apply in individual work and classrooms, communal areas such as refectories and student union property.
One of the scariest parts of this proposed policy is the ability for University management to dis-empower those students who are opposed to gender segregation by stating that the religious belief of those demanding segregation take precedence over those calling for equality. If the universities sign up to this policy then they will have signified quite clearly that they are not on the side of personal or academic freedom but are instead on the side of those retrograde forces that are opposed to freedom of almost any kind.
It is extremely worrying that policies like this, which take society backwards with regards to gender equality, are even being considered seriously by the upper echelons of the British university policy makers. That they are being considered in this way at all shows just how big is the problem that we all face.
Original Harry’s Place article
The ‘Jim Crow’ laws of the United States from the 19th Century to the 1950’s