Stewart Maxwell MSP has condemned guidance issued by Universities UK to fifteen Scottish institutions of higher education condoning gender segregation at events at which external speakers are appearing.
“I am frankly shocked and dismayed that Universities UK has issued guidance to universities and colleges in Scotland indicating that if an external speaker wishes his audience at a university event to be segregated by gender then that is acceptable.
“I am even more dismayed that Universities UK have indicated that if the speaker will not countenance any mixed gender seating area due to what they call, “genuinely-held religious beliefs…the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.”
“No-one is prevented from speaking because the audience isn’t arranged to suit their particular preference. I am particularly concerned that the religious beliefs of some speakers are thought to trump the rights of our female students and academics. And I believe that if segregation is enforced by gender then the case against segregation by race, religion, sexual orientation and disability has been profoundly weakened.”
“I have written to both the Cabinet Secretary for Education, the Vice-Chancellors of the institutions concerned and Universities UK to express my concerns.”