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Gender segregation now prohibited at University events and meetings

New guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has laid out new restrictions on the use of gender segregation. The AHS supports the recent changes to the guidance, which mean that gender segregation is no longer allowed to be enforced at events held at UK Universities.

A previous report from Universities UK (UUK) was condemned by the AHS for permitting gender segregation at university events if it was demanded by a potential speaker or audience member on religious grounds. At the time, the AHS objected to UUK’s justification of the guidance, which stated that segregation wasn’t discriminatory as men and women were being “segregated in the same way”, and that a speaker’s right to freedom of expression could be limited if they had no choice but to speak to an unsegregated audience.

However, the EHRC has since revised its guidance significantly since the last report by UUK in November 2013. Their new guidance for July 2014 states that “Universities and students’ unions must not knowingly facilitate discrimination by others at the request of an external speaker or an individual attending or wishing to attend an event” and that “all attendees would need to be at liberty freely to choose where they wished to sit without any direction, whether explicit or merely an implicit expectation.” The EHRC no longer gives any permissible reasons for Universities to allow separation of male and female attendees to be enforced at public events held on their campuses, forcing UUK to withdraw its guidance from November 2013.

The AHS is glad to see the new guidance from EHRC opposing gender segregation on UK campuses. This is a fantastic step forward and the AHS supports the recent changes made to this guidance to be in line with UK equality law.

Chris Malburn, President of the AHS, said: “This news is certainly welcome. Gender segregation at university events is unjustified and I don’t believe that a situation where men and women are ‘separate but equal’ is realistic. Freedom of belief is a fundamental right, however, no-one should have the right use their beliefs to make demands that impact on the personal freedoms of others. For that reason, I support the recent changes made to the EHRC’s guidance.”

For further information, please contact president@ahsstudents.org.uk.

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AHS Newsletter

21st July 14

New guidance from the Equality and Human Rights commission (EHRC) has laid out new restrictions on the usage of gender segregation on campus. The out-going President of the AHS, Rory Fenton explains the significance of the new guidance:

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s new guidance marks a huge shift in how conservative religious groups can organise on campus. The Universities UK guidance that it replaces was a disaster for both secularists and feminists alike, making it clear that the right to free speech included the right to dictate where people sit during that speech, according to their gender, regardless of their own desires. The old guidance also made clear that religious beliefs should be prioritised by universities over non-religious beliefs like feminism. In short, it said that religious “freedom” went beyond the freedom to hold beliefs and extended to forcing those beliefs on others.

The new guidance couldn’t be more different. It makes very clear the legal case for individual rights, in particular the freedom from different treatment based on gender. The new guidance states, “Equality law protects individuals from discrimination because of their religion, but protection against religious discrimination cannot be exercised in order to claim rights or privileges that would disadvantage others”. This new guidance is not simply a response to the public outcry generated back in December, it is created by the body designed to enforce the Equality Act, meaning that this guidance carries significant legal weight. This is a very important victory and vindication of our opposition to the guidance last December, which saw the AHS at odds with the NUS. What better way to motivate us while preparing for a new term? – Rory Fenton


 

Get Involved In The AHS!

There is still time to apply for officer positions however you must act quick as the deadline is Sunday 27 July! To find out more click here.

The following officer positions are available:

  • Regional Officers
  • Membership Officers
  • Communications Officers
  • Education Officer
  • Campaigns & Research Officer
  • ‘Design Officer’

Society Grants

Does your AHS socieity have a really cool idea for an event or project but not quite enough cash to make it a reality?

Well don’t despair. The AHS has grants between £50-£300 to give away. To apply for grants you need to complete the following form and sent it to grants@ahsstudents.org.uk by Sunday 27th July.

-Note it is strongly recommended that you discuss your application with the President of the AHS Chris Malburn (president@ahsstudents.org.uk) before submission.


AHS Convention – Save the date!

The new exec is already busy planning next years AHS convention. While I’m sure its difficult to contain yourself in anticipation of the interesting speakers that will be at AHS CON 2015 you’ll have to console yourself with the following tidbit of information:

AHS CON 2015 will be held in London on : 27th-29th March 2015

 

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