University of East London cancels segregated Islamic Society event
14:49 17 April 2014
An Muslim student event at a Beckton university that would have segregated seating by gender has been cancelled by the university after equality activists intervened.
The dinner event, organised for tonight by the University of East London’s Islamic society, advertised it as a “segregated event”, and had separate booking phone numbers for “brothers” and “sisters”.
But UEL pulled the event after human rights activist Peter Tatchell lobbied Vice-Chancellor John Joughin, warning the seating arrangement would breach equality law.
The Day After Tomorrow event - which charged £5 for tickets - would have seen a lecture theatre at the UEL’s Docklands campus strictly segregated, with women and men sitting apart.
Concerns were also raised about statements made in the past by two of the preachers booked to appear.
A spokesman for UEL said: “The society will not be permitted to use any of UEL’s facilities or premises to host this event. “We have made it very clear to the organisers that the university will not tolerate segregation or hatred in any form.”
The UEL Islamic Society was not available for comment at time of press.
Mr Tatchell thanked UEL for the move, saying: “Gender segregated seating violates the university’s equal opportunities policies and the equality laws.
“The swift, positive response of UEL stands in contrast to some other universities which, in the name of tolerance, collude with Islamist intolerance by allowing extremist preaching on university premises.”
The news comes after the education body Universities UK withdraw guidance it had issued last year that said segregation could be allowed on campus if requested by speakers who would not attend otherwise.
The guidance provoked fury from women’s rights groups and was condemned by the Labour Party, the education secretary and the Prime Minister.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission said the law allows gender segregation at premises used for religious purposes but not in academic meeting or in lectures open to the public.