Alas. Far from upholding the principles of Western liberalism and of gender equality (the latter hard won by women in the academy) the vice-chancellors of Britain's universities have surrendered twenty-first century Western norms to the demands of seventh-century Islamic misogyny, by agreeing to gender separation at lectures where speakers demand it.
So long, that is, as the inferior sex is not seen as such by having to sit at the back of the room, as in many Muslim gatherings.
Reports the London Daily Telegraph:
'Universities can segregate students during debates as long as the women are not forced to sit behind the men, university leaders have said.
Segregation at the behest of a controversial speaker is an issue which arises "all the time” and banning men and women from sitting next to each during debates is a "big issue" facing universities, Universities UK has said.
As a result they have issued guidance which suggests that segregation is likely to be acceptable as long as men and women are seated side by side and one party is not at a disadvantage.
In a new guidance on external speakers, vice-chancellors' group Universities UK says that universities face a complex balance of promoting freedom of speech without breaking equality and discrimination laws.'Beneath an outraged op-ed from a female columnist in the same paper, one male Islamic apologist has commented tellingly [emphasis added]:
"....You are targeting and attacking Muslims and nothing else. There is nothing 'backwards' about gender segregation. Do men enter women's bathrooms and vice versa? Why do women pray behind men? Because they are 'lower than men??' no because men would be staring at women's asses if they were in front. We muslims (I am a convert to Islam myself not born Muslim, I'm white European) have our reasonings and it is not without rational, you may not like it, but the only ones shuvving [sic] anything down anyone's throat are angry and hateful non-muslims who have beef with Muslims not the other way around. Jews segregate too, but you are not targetting Jews because you would be labelled "anti-semetic" and be losing your job at a newspaper for it, but Muslims are open season."But these are secular events, not religious ones, taking place in university lecture halls and rooms, not in mosques, and in those circumstances it is utterly unconscionable that university vice-chancellors should cave in to Islamic demands.
Evidently, segregation is fine, so long as it's only women who are being insulted: it's unthinkable that the vice-chancellors would agree to black people being forced to sit apart from white at the behest of some speaker from the Ku Klux Klan, for instance.
Athough I do not usually agree with Richard Dawkins, Peter Tatchell, and Polly Toynbee, I applaud them, and the many other appalled people (some Muslims and ex-Muslims among them) who have put their names to the following petition:
'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.”
We, the undersigned, condemn the endorsement of gender apartheid by Universities UK. Any form of segregation, whether by race, sex or otherwise is discriminatory. Separate is never equal and segregation is never applied to those who are considered equal. By justifying segregation, Universities UK sides with Islamist values at the expense of the many Muslims and others who oppose sex apartheid and demand equality between women and men.
The guidance must be immediately rescinded and sex segregation at universities must come to an end.'To sign the petition click here