Written by Student Rights on 22 April 2013 at 8pm

Segregation by gender advertised at MPACUK Conference

On 19th April Student Rights reported that the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK) would be holding a conference at the university despite the fact that the group’s extreme views have led to it being ‘No Platformed’ by the National Union of Students (NUS).

When asked why a commercial booking had been extended to the group, the university said:

Queen Mary has a clear policy on Freedom of Speech within the law, and all events that take place on our premises are subject to stringent security checks to ensure the safety of attendees and speakers.

The MPACUK event on 21 April is a commercial booking, which has met with checks in line with our policy and therefore will go ahead. As necessary, QM advisors will work with organisers to ensure that booking conditions are met on the day”.

At the time, we highlighted to the university that a student had claimed that gender segregation would be enforced, and urged Queen Mary to ensure that they investigate this claim.

Today, Student Rights has been passed an email by a student who registered to attend the event which includes a line reading:

Separate seating arrangements for men and women have been arranged

Queen Mary’s Equal Opportunities Statement says that it has:

...committed to create and maintain a community in which all people can learn, work and interact freely without fear of discrimination, prejudice or harassment”.

Furthermore, on 29th March the University barred an event from taking place on campus featuring Abdullah Al-Andalusi after it was advertised for “brothers only”.

This therefore raises the question of whether the authorities at Queen Mary were aware of MPACUK’s plans to provide seating segregated by gender.

Should attendees at events wish to voluntarily segregate themselves then that is their choice, but in a publicly funded building this process must not be facilitated by event organisers.

Regardless of whether these separate seating arrangements were forced on attendees, advertising segregation encourages discrimination.

Here at Student Rights we hope that Queen Mary University will investigate this immediately, and that it will reconsider next time MPACUK attempts to book facilities on campus.