Universities UK persists in approving sex-segregated seating, Telegraph editorial decries it

December 13, 2013 • 6:33 am

[UPDATE by Matthew Cobb: As some commenters have pointed out below, UUK have withdrawn their advice, including deleting it from their website pending further legal comment. They accept that it would be wrong to impose sex-segregation, but they have doubts about the legal situation were it to be ‘voluntary’. More here.]

The story of Universities UK (“UUK,” a consortium of university vice chancellors) and its approval of sex-segregated seating for Muslims (or, perhaps Orthodox Jews) continues. I’ve posted about it only briefly as others have covered it elsewhere, but it’s not a pretty tale. For UUK, cowed by fears of Muslim “offense,” tentatively endorsed the right of university groups to make men and women sit apart.  Their excuse was pathetic; according to a story in late November in the Telegraph:

[UUK] 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.

When considering a request for segregation, they warn, planners must think about whether a seating plan could be discriminatory to one gender – for example if women were forced to sit at the back of the room it could prove harder for them to participate in the debate.

The report adds: “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.”

To those who lived through the sixties in America, that’s the same language used to justify racial segregation: “separate but equal.”  But it never was, or is, “equal.” It always enforces a sense of divisiveness and tacitly marginalizes one group.

When a spokewoman at UUK was asked whether this could mandate segregation by sexual orientation (gays on one side, straights on the other), she replied that that wasn’t the same, because sexual orientation “wasn’t visible” compared to sex. That’s ludicrous and reprehensible.  Discrimination is discrimination, whether or not the traits discriminated against can be seen at a cursory glance.

The Telegraph article notes that “radical preachers spoke at 180 events at universities including Cardiff and University College London (UCL) between March 2012 and March 2013. Segregated seating for men and women was promoted or implied at more than a quarter of the events, at 21 separate institutions.” This includes, of course the famous debate on Islam and atheism between Larry Krauss and Hamza Tzortzis at University College London last March.

After a lot of protest, UUK issued a document affirming the right of speakers to request sex-segregation at some events; you can order a hard copy of the document here, but I haven’t seen it online. You can, however, read a legal opinion solicted by UUK from senior barrister Fenella Morris, which includes the following conclusions:

When considering events which propose voluntary segregation, it is appropriate for universities to have regard to the right of self-determination of those who wish to meet while segregated. This is particularly the case where the voluntary segregation is the manifestation of a religious belief which is specifically protected by Article 9 of the ECHR. It would not be right for a university simply to treat a genuine wish for voluntary segregation as evidence of false consciousness on the part of members of the group that seek it, and then prohibit or otherwise inhibit it.

Yes, religion gets special consideration because its “consciousness” (i.e., discrimination against women) might not be “false.” (What about Christians who would prefer gays to be segregated. Is that also “true consciousness”?  Of course it is, but what’s at issue is not whether beliefs are real, but whether they’re pernicious.) The legal advice also notes that while the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission says that segregation is discriminatory when the “protected characteristic is race,” segregation is not necessarily discriminatory for other features if it doesn’t amount to “less favourable treatment.”  Morris concludes:

It is unlikely that this will be the case where segregation is voluntary, or a nonsegregated area is available.

Ergo, UUK’s policy of sex discrimination is okay if there is “voluntary” segregation or a place with nonsegregated seating.

Seeking further support for its odious policy, UUK has, according to yesterday’s Guardian, asked the UK’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission for a definitive legal ruling.  That means, of course, that UUK is too cowardly to make the decision itself. Let’s hope that Commission does the right thing.

Meanwhile UUK continues to tie itself into knots defending its policy:

Universities UK has insisted that its document was purely hypothetical guidance intended for “practical assistance” and did not promote segregation. It said in a statement: “Universities are independent institutions and will make decisions themselves on a case-by-case basis.”

However, the furore intensified after Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, argued on Thursday that segregation on the basis of gender was not entirely “alien to our culture”.

Asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the difference between even voluntary gender segregation and doing something similar on the grounds of race, Dandridge said: “It is possible for women to choose to be educated in an all-women environment. 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.”

However, she stressed that any separation would have to be entirely voluntary, adding: “We are not talking about teaching, lectures, the core business of universities. This particular case study is very specific: it’s talking about an event to discuss faith in the modern world in the course of a series of lectures about different approaches to religion.”

She said such separation was allowed only if it did not cause disadvantage: “What the law says is that segregation on the grounds of gender may or may not be a disadvantage. What this case study is exploring is when it may be a disadvantage and where it may not be. In circumstances where the audience is saying that they prefer to sit in different groups then we are saying that universities should respect their views providing – and this is critical – providing that there is no disadvantage to either men or women.”

The whole policy of “voluntary” segregation stinks.  In the case of Muslims, it’s “voluntary” to the extent that many women have been taught from birth that they’re second class citizens that they should be “uncomfortable” in the presence of men. (That segregation of course enforces tension between the sexes.) After all, women are, to Muslims, temptresses, and you wouldn’t want to sit next to men ogling you and despising you at the same time.

It’s time for Islam to recognize that its religious doctrine takes second place to law and to simple decency in a secular state.  The right of citizens to not be separated from others on the grounds or religion, race, sexual orientation, or anything else, trumps the right of Muslims or Orthodox Jews to put women on one side of the room and men on the other. That is government endorsement of an outdated, medieval, and misogynistic mentality.

And, at last, the Telegraph has come out against this policy an editorial, “No place for segregation at our universities.” The article concludes that:

“There is no reason, religious or otherwise, why the segregation of the sexes should be permitted at universities” and “. . . requesting that women in a public place sit separately away from men is entirely alien to 21st-century British culture. . . Universities UK needs to review its guidelines, urgently.”

As the Aussies would say, “Good on ya, Telegraph.” But the paper pulls its punches—twice.  I left out part of one sentence above, which reads in full:

But requesting that women in a public place sit separately away from men is entirely alien to 21st-century British culture, and something that should be condemned as strongly as Islamophobia.

That is nothing other than a sop to Islam, especially since the piece simply assumes that the reader knows what “Islamophobia” is. How about this: “Fear of Islam because of its repressive social policies.” Is that definition to be condemned? And why use “Islamophobia” here instead of “anti-Semitism,” or, better yet, “any policy that publicly separates people who are equal under law”?

Finally, the editorial says this:

The sight of men and women sitting separately at meetings of Islamic societies is not a reflection of Islamic teaching, denies the self-evident equality of the sexes and is an affront to human dignity.

All good except for the part about “not a reflection of Islamic teaching.” Really? Since when has the Telegraph become the arbiter of “true Islam”?  In fact, segregation of sexes is part of a lot of Islamic teaching, and it’s simply coddling Islam to deny it.  That reminds me of Steve Gould’s “NOMA” argument that science and religion not only should occupy separate magisteria (science deals with facts about the universe, religion with morals, meaning and values), but do occupy separate magisteria.  When confronted with the issue of fundamentalist Christianity, which regularly intrudes on science with its creationist doctrines, Gould simply claimed that that was not “proper” religion.  This kind of circularity, as seen in the Telegraph editorial, characterizes religious accommodation. I’m glad to see that the paper has now set itself up as an authority on theology.

It is a fact that Islam does teach separation of the sexes (and inferiority of those lacking a Y chromosome), and many Muslims adhere to such policies on religious grounds. (Note to Islamophiles: this is not a reflection of Western colonialism.) Would the Telegraph claim that theocratic Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, or its adherence to sharia law, in which a woman’s testimony is worth only half of a man’s, are not “reflections of Islamic teaching”?

Mainstream media are simply unable to condemn Muslim doctrine or the reprehensible actions it inspires without throwing a bone to Islam. And that religion gets a special pass. When papers condemned the refusal of Catholic hospitals to abort fetuses that endanger the mother’s lives, we didn’t see them adding “this behavior is not a reflection of Catholic teaching.”

h/t: Pyers

63 thoughts on “Universities UK persists in approving sex-segregated seating, Telegraph editorial decries it

  1. Has anyone here been to one of those segregated lectures. Do the lecturers talk to both sides of the room equally?

  2. One of the most depressing aspects of all this is that way that many liberal-left and looney-left people end up in practice endorsing such socially regressive positions.

    When I was a student in the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire in the 80s we complained incessantly about the looney left, but I don’t recall them ever endorsing this sort of sexism.

    It comes to something when the Torygraph is the voice of common sense.

  3. There seems to have been a flurry of such articles about the UK recently. It’s hard to tell if it’s a pattern or just a coinicidence. Either way, it’s concerning. Perhaps we’re moving in the wrong direction.

  4. Absolutely right on, Jerry Coyne!
    The contention that sex segregation does not imply second class status is false–women’s university education in separate colleges, for example, arose because women were not treated equally, and were in fact denied education at universities–ever see photographs of men protesting the inclusion of women at Cambridge and Oxford?–and it continues because of long standing discrimination and bias.
    Public institutions should be in the business of upholding the equal rights of citizens, not undermining those rights.

  5. While this may appear “equal” on the surface, we see what is behind it by looking at how these entities operate. Conservative/orthodox religions invariably see woman as second class citizens, and finding evidence for this is trivial. This seating arrangement is to keep the women away from the men, not vice versa, and not “away from each other”.

  6. you can order a hard copy of the document here, but I haven’t seen it online.

    Very interesting, because it was online when the story first broker, and indeed I downloaded a copy from here.

    Now, however, the download option no longer works, and there is now this:

    “***Please note that we are working with our lawyers and the EHRC to clarify the position on case study 2. Meanwhile the case study has been withdrawn from the guidance pending the outcome of this review.***”

  7. When a spokewoman at UUK was asked whether this could mandate segregation by sexual orientation (gays on one side, straights on the other), she replied that that wasn’t the same, because sexual orientation “wasn’t visible” compared to sex. That’s ludicrous and reprehensible.

    Ludicrous and reprehensible indeed. If only the question had been about skin color instead of sexual orientation. One can only hope the KKK does not have a chance to hold events there.

    “Voluntary segregation” is a contradiction in terms. If any one opts out of keeping an area segregated, it cannot be segregated any more. Had I the opportunity I would attend as many of these events as possible and deliberately sit to flout any such segregation. Depending upon how such things are enforced, it seems like the University can only get into more trouble the harsher the methods are.

    1. Voluntary segregation” is a contradiction in terms.

      Yep. They keep using that word ‘voluntary.’ I do not think it means what they think it means.

      You don’t need university guidelines for truly voluntary segregation. For open seating events, letting people not sit next to someone they don’t want to sit next to is the default.

      I have a modest proposal. For islamic events where the sponsoring student organization or speaker wishes the crowd to be segregated, we segregate people this way: have islamic women and non-islamic students sit in the lecture hall, while islamic men sit in their rooms and watch via webcam.

      1. To find out what can happen to someone who chooses not to comply with gender segregation at these meetings see my comment #29. (I intended to write ‘Muslim students’ rather than plain ‘Muslims’)

    1. One of the major points in Greg Lukianoff’s book “Unlearning Liberty” is that freedom on campus is often restricted — illegally — relative to the host society.

  8. When considering events which propose voluntary segregation, it is appropriate for universities to have regard to the right of self-determination of those who wish to meet while segregated. This is particularly the case where the voluntary segregation is the manifestation of a religious belief which is specifically protected by Article 9 of the ECHR.

    From wiki: “Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This includes the freedom to change a religion or belief, and to manifest a religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”.

    Scientology should start hosting events at universities.

  9. Two related points: my school has just been Ofstedded, government-inspected, a big deal. One of the inspectors let the staff know that, due to his Muslim beliefs, he would not shake the hand of any female member of staff.

    On “the refusal of Catholic hospitals to abort foetuses that endanger the mother’s life,” as recently as 2004 Gianna Molla was canonized by John Paul II for refusing an abortion or hysterectomy, opting instead for a less invasive procedure in the hopes of saving her child.

    Slaínte.

    1. So when he goes to shake a male staff member’s hand, is it acceptable to defer and state that you would not shake the hand of any declared bigots among the inspectors?

      1. Lol, that’s an excellent one.

        I had once a colleague, here in Paris, who was wearing a muslim scarf. Only her googles could be seen. She did not want to shake hands, either. It didn’t feel comfortable at all(fortunately, most are not like that. Most muslims I’ve met just have bizarre feeding habits, and that’s their problem, not mine).

        but if I was in this position, I think I would say “shaking hands of misogynists is opposed to my feminist belief”. And make a japanese salute(like in Judo).

        1. The parallels with my dad’s early career and persecution by the Northern Ireland RC Church just struck me. Here’s the story.

          In Catholic Ireland’s FATLAD see
          my da, a Derry teacher he
          to gold and green, then refugee,
          his nemesis, the Bishop’s ring.

          An orphan, da was sent to school
          to Collum’s ancient holy rule
          and topped the class – he was no fool,
          his second da, the Bishop’s ring.

          Announced his boss, “I’m proud to say
          His Grace will honour us today.
          The staff, with our respects to pay
          should bow and kiss the Bishop’s ring.”

          As deference assumed its face
          and humble meekness soaked the place
          my da responded, “No, Your Grace,
          I will not kiss the Bishop’s ring.”

          “My son, I grant a second chance.
          A ‘No’ again? A third? This stance
          offends to God. Behold! I lance
          the sheep that lost the Bishop’s ring.

          Get hence you wand’ring Paddy-Jew,
          your wife and child, descendants too,
          my petty fiefdom’s not for you,
          how dare you spurn the Bishop’s ring?

          Go roam the earth, you errant band,
          be gone, unworthy of this land,
          your Father cuts your traitor’s hand,
          get thee without the Bishop’s ring.”

          No Cromwell slew him in the field,
          no Curzon forced his kind to yield,
          no Saxon treachery concealed
          its hand beyond the Bishop’s ring.

          No sect or Protestant redoubt
          condemned my da or led the rout,
          it was his own who cast him out
          and cleansed the precious Bishop’s ring.

          As I return to Derry’s wing,
          an excommunicated thing,
          I, in my English accent sing,
          “I will not kiss the Bishop’s ring.”

          As a fifth century monk once said, “There is no crime for those who have Christ”.

          Slaínte.

        2. The statement about “bizarre feeding habits” is out of line, and I would have asked for an apology had I seen it (sometimes I can’t monitor every comment). When I’m in India, I engage in bizarre feeding habits, too, eating with my hands. I like it!

          1. +1 for “bizarre feeding habits” :). Thanks for taking time out to respond.

            On the question of gender segregation, I think it is a matter of time before these attitudes change. I grew up in India (which has one of the highest Muslim populations in the world) and gender segregation in the best universities is unheard of (somewhat unrelated: one of India’s most well-regarded science universities, the Indian Institute of Science, has more women on its technical and research staff than men). It is not illegal though, and is practiced in some oft-ridiculed and, frankly, no-so-good colleges, most of which are run by social conservatives of all stripes.

            One form of institutionalized gender segregation that does happen in India is in public transit: there are typically “Women only” coaches in most trains where men are not allowed, though women are allowed in all coaches. In most public offices, queues are also gender segregated, though again this is typically meant more as a privilege for women, just as in the case of public transit.

            1. These “for women only” coaches and segments of buses are also to protect women from sexual harassment and aggressions, or so was I told. In that context, it is a good thing.

  10. People can sit where they like, of course, but to fashion that as ‘voluntary segregation’ is an attempt to get segregation in through the back door.

    The point at issue here is whether a speaker can *dictate* the seating arrangements at an event held in a UK University. The answer should be “No!”, but the legal advice says, likely, “Yes!” See the QC’s paragraph 8, which simply talks of segregation, so includes racial segregation:

    …whether the reason advanced for placing a stipulation of segregation of an audience for a particular speaker relies upon the fact that it is the manifestation of a religious belief, two rights – Articles 9 and 10 – will be invoked. These two important rights must be balanced against a right of freedom of association of those who do not wish to be segregated while hearing a particular speaker. Although it would be too simplistic to suggest that the two former rights will always outweigh the latter, it is likely that in many cases the significance of the two former rights will be greater than the latter in terms of where a person sits in order to be part of the audience for a particular speaker if not allowing segregation would prevent the speaker appearing

    (my emphasis)

  11. Great riposte Jerry. Like all segregation, this is nothing more than ‘back of the bus’ for women at a university. “That’s half the human population right there,” as Hitch poignantly observed in a devastating debate against the motion of “whether Catholicism was a force for good in the world.” (One of my all-time favorites with confrere Stephen Frye).

    I was thinking about other potential examples of “voluntary segregation” and all-girl schools come to mind. Certainly they have a long standing tradition in the UK. Primary school I could understand but colleges? Please someone else weigh in here as I am not knowledgable on this subject.

    1. I’m not up on recent studies on the subject, but there was some evidence that female students performed better academically in a single-sex school than in a co-ed school. I can’t link to anything, nor can I vouch for how sound the study was – it was a while ago.

      Things that were noted in a co-ed classroom was that teachers routinely gave more attention to male students, even when they had been forewarned that teachers have this tendency. They also noticed a tendency of male students to misbehave to attract the attention of the teacher if they perceived that female students were getting attention from the teacher. If these sorts of things are true, then that would be something worth considering.

      That said, I personally experienced both single-sex and co-ed schools; and in my opinion co-ed is a much healthier environment for developing social skills and demystifying the “other” sex.

      1. I also recall something like that, with similar caveats.

        However, my experience teaching at University level is that I end up paying more attention to the female students, simply because they are far more likely to ask for help.

        It would be interesting to know if this differs between subjects or between Uni and school.

      2. Even to the extent that is valid, it’s in a sense segregation in time, not in place. The same lessons are given at different times.

        Further, the intent is to reduce the difference in treatment of the different genders.

        The women here are stigmatize by segregation at the very same event, and it’s meant to send a very clear message to women that the UUK is intentionally ignoring.

      3. IMO it’s not an analogous situation. Women choosing to attend an all-women school are choosing to participate in some privately funded, non-public action. AIUI these segregated lectures are funded by the student body through fees from all the students, and they’re open to the public.

        Imagine if the Islam club of some Uni raised its own money, and used that money to pay for a private venue for a club dinner where only club members and invitees could attend…and they segregated the seating at this event. Would you have a problem with that? I wouldn’t. Where they sit in their own private dinners is entirely up to them. That sort of situation is more directly analogous to an all-women university.

        The lectures, OTOH, are more like the government-employed bus driver telling you that you must sit at the back of the public bus, because some other rider doesn’t want your kind sitting near them. Ef that noise.

  12. This is the same London School of Economics who toadyed up to the Gadaffi Family – see here http://tinyurl.com/nk4fdja and accepted 1.5m pounds from them to help run the University.

    The so-called “voluntary” seating arrangement would be no such thing. Muslim women would be under great phsycological pressure to conform. The LSE position is untenable and if it comes to law will surely be condemed by the court. I agree with Jonh K, let’s all turn up to the LSE and sit amongst the free women.

    1. Better still, have men and women sit alternating, sleeveless, and arm-in-arm. Each should bring a personal copy of the Koran with them and it would be great if all wore red tee shirts that read “Based on statistics alone, some of us are menstruating.”

  13. “In circumstances where the audience is saying that they prefer to sit in different groups then we are saying that universities should respect their views”

    That’s evasive. The hypothetical case on which they base the decision is one in which the speaker makes it a condition that the audience be segregated. Nothing is said about the audience’s preference.

    1. Not just evasive, it is flat out lying. Lying takes many forms, and this is defintely a straight up example of a lie.

      If it were truly voluntary then they would have no problem with people ignoring the “suggested” seating arrangment, right?

  14. There is a simple and pretty irrefutable way of showing that the Universities UK’s CEO, the unspeakable Nicola Dandridge, was lying when she was asked on the BBC Today radio programme to defend mandated gender segregation on British campuses.
    She kept emphasizing the “voluntary” nature of the gender segregation as envisaged in the guidance document she had signed and endorsed.
    Of course, the UUK document does not just endorse “voluntary” gender apartheid but states unambiguously:
    “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”.
    Danbridge’s protestations that banning “voluntary” gender segregation would infringe the audience’s freedom are disingenuous, as her document explicit warns UK Universities against providing alternative “unsegregated” seating, therefore mandating compulsory gender segregation on UK campuses. This is a disgrace that cannot be tolerated.
    It is also interesting to note that the legal advice that UUK managed to get AFTER publishing its odious document fails to mention the crucial sentence I quoted above.
    Finally, as if further evidence of the UUK’s servile attitude to religion were necessary, it is worth pointing out that the long list of organizations consulted by UUK in preparing a document on freedom of speech included the Church of England, the Union of Jewish Students, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, and the Lokahi Foundation (?!), but tellingly excluded Liberty (not to mention the National Secular Society).

    1. “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”.

      With proper policy in place this can never happen. The speaker states their demands up front, the university says ‘I’m sorry, we can’t legally accommodate that demand,’ and the speaker either chooses not to speak or deals with it.

      This is not rocket science. Treat a speaker (or sponsoring organization) request to restrict legal student attendence the same way you’d treate a speaker request for a gold-plated rolls royce. Politely decline and let the chips fall where they may.

  15. “When a spokewoman at UUK was asked whether this could mandate segregation by sexual orientation (gays on one side, straights on the other), she replied that that wasn’t the same, because sexual orientation “wasn’t visible” compared to sex. That’s ludicrous and reprehensible.”

    This could be easily shown: try to suggest that muslim men (only men*) must be socially segregated on the sole basis of their sex and religious attires. The discrimination would be only on “visible” criteria.

    This could even be extended to all religiously disguised men (bishops and other fathers, buddhist monks, orthodox jews, etc.). So we would have mixed secular-looking/female religious-clothed sections and male religious-clothed sections.

    I wonder what would be the reaction if someone proposed that seriously?

    Desnes Diev

    * Otherwise the victims of such proposal would be the usual scarfed women.

  16. I have no problem with the gender segregation as long as it’s completely voluntary. All they need to do is get a written sign-off from every potential attendee.

  17. “When a spokewoman at UUK was asked whether this could mandate segregation by sexual orientation (gays on one side, straights on the other), she replied that that wasn’t the same, because sexual orientation “wasn’t visible” compared to sex.”

    In other words, “we could if we would, but we can’t, so we shan’t.”

    1. I’m not sure about that. I think she was just caught off-guard and hadn’t had time to up up with a convoluted half-witted justification for it.

      There is a realm of difference between single-sex schools or toilets and segregating genders at public events; and every attempt by UUK to explain their position just exposes them further as intellectual morons. Whether society really needs girls’ schools or Ladies’ toilets is a fine subject for debate. However this “segregation” exists today because possibly it improves educational opportunities or addresses differing biological conditions. It certainly could be debated that this isn’t always necessary or desired. But it’s a whole nother issue.
      The only reason a religious extremist insists on gender segregation is because they have an unhealthy obsession and loathing of sex and women.

      1. Well one reason for single sex schools is legacy. In the old days it was either separate schools by sex or no schools for women. Same for the colleges at Oxbridge. It is a legacy we are trying to move away from.

        BTW if the speaker doesn’t want to see mixed seating, they could set up a curtain in front of him.

        1. “BTW if the speaker doesn’t want to see mixed seating, they could set up a curtain in front of him.”

          Great idea! And instead of Muslim women being forced to veil themselves, Muslim men who feel they might be tempted/offended by the sight of a woman’s uncovered neck or ankle should be encouraged to wear a veil over their eyes.

  18. So UUK doesn’t want to offend the sensibilities of religious bigots, but is perfectly willing to offend women and probably a large percentage of men? Jeez.

    As you and others have pointed out, the UUK *should* take a stand for nondiscrimination and insist on nonsegregated seating. If the speakers insist, let them find another venue for their bigotry.

  19. If such segregation is imposed, I would love to see the women come wearing the most provocative and sexy clothes, exposing legs up to the top of the thighs, exposing most of the breasts, showing part of their bras, wearing provocative makeup, and distracting the Muslim speakers!

    I remember from my childhood when visiting a Catholic church, women had to sit on one side and the men on the other side. In synagogues, the women are confined to an upstairs gallery, and the same system is in mosques.

  20. I suggest the university issue a standard school Burqa for all students and encourage them to not speak during class. This covers both the gender and sexual orientation issues. Everyone can sit where they like. Problem solved.

  21. I sat in the women’s section, with a female friend, of a debate ostensibly hosted by the Westminster University debating society: Secularism or Islam? The way forward. When I tried to leave half way through the tedious debate my exit was blocked by Muslims. I realised that if I tried to force my way through, they would tear me to pieces. In the end, I was let through but followed out. I felt lucky to be called a disgusting pervert and have one of them spit in my face.

    1. You probably *were* lucky. And the university should have had security on hand just to prevent such incidents. Disgusting.

  22. I would suggest that any man or woman who is incapable of sitting next to a person of the opposite sex in a public space in order to attend a lecture on whatever subject, has severe psychological problems and should see a psychiatrist and not try to resolve the issue by imposing his solution on others. If religious views form part of this issue I would suggest that these are simply overlaid on the said psychological problem.

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