Good news: Universities UK withdraws endorsement of gender segregation

Gender SegregationThe LSS has welcomed the news that Universities UK (UUK) has withdrawn its guidance allowing gender segregation.

UUK had previously published guidance allowing gender segregation at talks from external speakers if this was driven by the “genuinely-held” religious beliefs of the speaker. The LSS had strongly condemned this guidance.

The withdrawal by UUK of their guidance follows widespread condemnation from public figures and politicians, including the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Education Secretary Michael Gove, which itself followed a protest outside UUK’s offices on 10 December which was covered by Channel 4 News and the national press. LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian spoke at the protest.

Although UUK have withdrawn their guidance this is pending a review with their legal advisers and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Commenting, LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian said:

“This is some rare good news for secularists and the LSS is very proud to have played its part.

“We’re not quite out of the woods yet and we need to see whether UUK replace their absurd guidance with something just as absurd or possibly even more so.

“We hope this victory reminds everyone that speaking up and protesting really does make a difference.

“It’s a shame that in 2013 in the United Kingdom we should be celebrating condemnation by the Prime Minister of gender segregation in UK universities but this shows just how low we have fallen and why we should not give so much as one inch to religious groups who want to turn the clock back on hard-won freedoms.

Our thanks again go to Maryam Namazie and Chris Moos for tirelessly raising the profile of this issue and for organising the protest. The LSS would also like to thank everyone involved in the protest and all the media outlets that covered this story.”

You can watch Channel 4’s coverage of the protest and a studio debate here.

The LSE Students Union Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society has kindly gathered a useful collection of the media coverage here.

You can read Charlie Klendjian’s speech here.

Update: see the letter to Universities UK from Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, instructed by Cambridge University student Radha Bhatt, challenging UUK’s original guidance.

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