Now Jim Fitzpatrick MP wants a ban on ‘segregation’


by Sunny
3rd September, 2009 at 4:12 pm    

You may remember Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick from previous farces as the time he walked out of a Muslim wedding in a huff because him and his wife had to be temporarily separated. I thought he was being quite opportunistic and idiotic, though Jobeda Ali wrote a guest post for us saying, ‘Let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with standing up for racism’.

But any doubt of the opportunistic nature of Fitzpatrick’s blatant pandering should be dispelled by this story today in the East London Advertiser:

Government Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has called for segregation to be outlawed in Britain.

Mr Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar and Canning Town, told the BBC that he does not oppose segregation in mosques, but believes separating men and women in halls such as the London Muslim Centre and other public buildings was “unacceptable.”

Mr Fitzpatrick told the PM programme: “Forcing people apart, removing the choice to be able to sit together, for me is a very big issue.

Well that would of course mean banning all women-only swimming lessons across the UK. You’d even have to ban girl-guides and boy-scouts then wouldn’t you? Or would you say another authoritarian Labour MP is floating an idea which has zero chance of ever being enacted but appeals to a certain constituency which think these nasty Muslims are destroying British values.

How about the revolutionary idea that people are able to choose whether they want segregation or not? I know that this thought might not occur to some Labour MPs that much, given they love enacting laws for every pet crusade they’re leading, but shouldn’t people have that choice? I’d also love to see the reaction to this stupidity in the Orthodox Jewish community.
Finally – completely bizarre that the East London Advertiser didn’t find anyone to call bullshit on this story and point out how unworkable it actually is. Perhaps some newspapers have their own agenda to grind too.


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Filed in: British Identity,Moral police,Race politics






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  1. pickles

    New blog post: Now Jim Fitzpatrick MP wants a ban on ‘segregation’ http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5748


  2. thabet

    RT @pickledpolitics: Now Jim Fitzpatrick MP wants a ban on ‘segregation’ http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5748


  3. Tim Whale

    RT @pickledpolitics: New blog post: Now Jim Fitzpatrick MP wants a ban on ‘segregation’ http://bit.ly/7LNCo <good post>


  4. Dolly-Ann

    Pickled Politics » Now Jim Fitzpatrick MP wants a ban on ‘segregation’ http://bit.ly/15d7RU


  5. Via Pickled Politics comes news that Jim… « Talk Islam

    [...] Via Pickled Politics comes news that Jim Fitzpatrick wants to ‘outlaw segregation’: [Jim] Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar and Canning Town, told the BBC that he does not oppose segregation in mosques, but believes separating men and women in halls such as the London Muslim Centre and other public buildings was “unacceptable.” [...]




  1. Rumbold — on 3rd September, 2009 at 4:20 pm  

    Sounds like the smoking ban to me- people trying to tell consenting adults how they should lead their lives.

  2. Philip Hunt — on 3rd September, 2009 at 4:28 pm  

    Telling people how to organise their weddings is both totalitarian and unworkable. Fitzpatrick is a prat.

  3. Colm — on 3rd September, 2009 at 4:29 pm  

    Girls have been allowed to join the Scouts since 1991.

    I suppose it is the choice of a private group of individuals if they want to segregate themselves, but he is explicitly talking about public buildings here is he not?

  4. Philip Hunt — on 3rd September, 2009 at 4:30 pm  

    @1,

    To a certain extent the smoking ban was OK, since bar staff (and other workers) shouldn’t have to be exposed to dangerous fumes in their jobs. The way it was done, IMO, was not acceptable, and revealed an agenda of wanting to control the minutiae of everyone’s lives.

  5. Leon — on 3rd September, 2009 at 4:43 pm  

    Wrong title, it should read:

    “Jim Fitzpatrick wants mixed gender toilets”

    or

    “Jim Fitzpatrick demands mixed changing rooms in gym/swimming bath/etc”

    or

    “Jim Fitzpatrick demands Stag Do’s and Hen Party’s to be outlawed”

  6. East London is East — on 3rd September, 2009 at 4:43 pm  

    Jim Fitzpatrick and the media-men and -women who glorified his insulting and ignominious behaviour at a wedding where he abused the hospitality of his hosts deserve to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. In the political lexicon of the 20th century segregation from America of the ’60′s to South Africa of the ’90′s was meant whites-only jobs, education, opportunities, neighbourhoods, park-benches, toilets and so forth. For Mr Fitzpatrick as a white European guest to go to a Bangladeshi wedding and make hysterical accusations of “segregation” just because he suffers from separation-anxiety about his wife implies that the white English people like the Fitzpatricks were being discriminated against which was not the case. Moreover, it is even more unfair with the English language to be misused in the way that tabloids are covering the story about Mr Fitzpatrick’s ‘victimisation’ by an organisation (the Islamic Forum) which was not even present on the occasion. I have always believed that the British public is a well-read lot however it is regrettable that none from the intellectuals or intelligentsia have stood up to correct Mr Fitzpatrick’s vocabulary. Instead the majority of white British politicians, academics and law-enforcers have been indulging Mr Fitzpatrick in his theatricals at the expense of a silent ethnic minority.

  7. Jono — on 3rd September, 2009 at 4:43 pm  

    Mostly agreed, though one point – the Scouts (in the UK anyway) have been coeducational since 1991. Guides remains female only.

  8. Leon — on 3rd September, 2009 at 4:44 pm  

    Sounds like the smoking ban to me- people trying to tell consenting adults how they should lead their lives.

    C’mon you can’t compare the two, one causes cancer and the other indignation…!

  9. carl — on 3rd September, 2009 at 5:25 pm  

    we all know jimmy didn’t mean it quite the same way as its been portrayed here. His point is let’s not slip into passive moral relativity, let’s fight sexism where its prevalent, and quite right

  10. Don — on 3rd September, 2009 at 5:53 pm  

    In swimming sessions, of course, one has the choice of single-sex or mixed. Indeed, over-50′s or mixed etc. Where the choice is segregated or nowt, it is a different matter.

    Segregation of the sexes is surely only a matter of personal choice when a non-segregated alternative is freely available.

  11. Soso — on 3rd September, 2009 at 6:09 pm  

    How about the revolutionary idea that people are able to choose whether they want segregation or not?

    Perhaps we could run that one past Nelson Mandela or MLK.

    Why not, instead, inform more traditional Muslims that unrelated men and women actually can meet in the same closed space without the meeting degenerating into a steamy sex orgy in the space of five minutes.

    It’s not Mr Fitzpatrick, here, that needs a few lessons.

    Well that would of course mean banning all women-only swimming lessons across the UK.

    No Mr Fitzpatrick’s position would see that the option of co-ed swimming lessons remain in place like at present.

    Muslims and orthodox Jews can do whatever they like in their mosques and synagogues, but when it comes to the public space, gender segregation should be illegal. When such segregation becomes insitutionalised, women inevitably suffer from it, becoming sidelinded and marginalised.

    Mr Fitzpatrick acted on principles. Gender segregation at such celebrations is an affront to western sensibilities and the planners of the wedding should have taken note of that by either warning Mr Fitzpatrick and his wife in advance, or else by not inviting them at all. Mr Fizpatrick, as we all know, has often attended functions at this centre and none of them were ever gender-segregated. His anger and indignation are for real. He almost felt as though he and his wife had been ambushed, and were being used as unwitting pawns in an effort by islamists to normalise/banalise the practice of gender-segrgation among non-Muslims. However, he caught the islamists off-guard by doing an about-face and leaving…something the Islamists figured he’d never dare do.

    Were I to be invited to a celebration or meeting without being told in advance it was going to be gender-segregated, I too would turn around and leave.

    As Jobeda Ali said; “let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with being in favour of racism.

    And for having said so, Muslims commenting here characterised her as a rural, Banglaeshi hayseed.

    Ms Ali was right, as is Mr Fitzzpatrick; gender segregation in the public space, especially when dicated by Islamists, should be denounced and banned at every turn.

    Leons’s *humour* is symptomatic of the present moral confusion. Change rooms and bathrooms must by necessity be gender segregated,not because of gender-apartheid, but for reasons for privacy and decency. It is for the same reason that even in mens bathrooms ( and womens of course) every toilet is segregated… in a closed cubicle.

    Does Leon seriously think people engage in the same activities…wiping their butts and such…on a wedding dance floor as they would at a public lavatory?

  12. Shatterface — on 3rd September, 2009 at 6:16 pm  

    I wouldn’t wipe my butt on the dancefloor of a segregated wedding.

  13. Ophelia Benson — on 3rd September, 2009 at 6:38 pm  

    “How about the revolutionary idea that people are able to choose whether they want segregation or not?”

    Well quite! And in (for instance) Mississippi “people” chose that they wanted segregation and the “people” who chose that they didn’t want segregation were shut up right smart quick. Same goes for South Africa.

  14. Dalbir — on 3rd September, 2009 at 6:44 pm  

    Moral of the story for the Bengali community. Don’t invite white people to your weddings in future.

    I feel partially sorry for the family who are at the centre of this story. That’ll teach ‘em.

  15. Sunny — on 3rd September, 2009 at 7:01 pm  

    Way to go with the lame comparisons Ophelia.

    Perhaps you might want to consider that segregation there was legally enforced and mixing was banned.

    Here – we have choice. People are free to ignore segregated places and free to go to mixed events if they so wish.

    Jim Fitzpatrick the new Martin Luther King. Give me a break.

  16. Chris E — on 3rd September, 2009 at 7:10 pm  

    Here – we have choice. People are free to ignore segregated places and free to go to mixed events if they so wish.

    I think there is a genuine concern about there always being mixed events available to go to. In terms of schools at least there have been one or two corner cases where they haven’t been – and that in itself leads to fear.

  17. Don — on 3rd September, 2009 at 7:14 pm  

    People are free to ignore segregated places and free to go to mixed events if they so wish.

    Not quite. If your sister is getting married and it is ‘decided’ that it should be segregated, then yes you are ‘free’ not to attend your sister’s wedding. That is not the same kind of freedom which applies in choosing between women only and mixed bathing sessions at a pool. If all or most communal events in your community are segregated then you are ‘free’ to cut yourself off from social intercourse (assuming no pressure to conform is applied, which is a big assumption) but when the cost is set that high ‘free’ becomes a slippery term.

  18. req1 — on 3rd September, 2009 at 7:17 pm  

    How about the revolutionary idea that people are able to choose whether they want segregation or not?

    Yes.

    I don’t like segregation.

    Can I sit wherever I like in a mosque, synagogue, temple etc if it’s on privately-owned land? No – it’s not my property. So at a Sikh wedding where I’d have loved to have sat with my partner to experience the whole thing together I had to sit on my norm elsewhere. A bit shit, but that’s life.

    But what if (I’m a glutton for punishment sometimes) I turn up with my partner to enjoy the fireworks of some batshit crazy Islamists debating with the equally batshit crazy Douglas Murray? If it’s on public property we should have every right to sit together, regardless of who the organisers are. After all, we ought to have the right “to choose whether we want segregation” as you say.

    So whose rights trump whose? My and my partner’s rights to sit together or the organisers’ rights to choose for us to be segregated? This is what Ophelia is getting at above.

    Back to the post.

    It would be really good to get Fitzpatrick’s actual quotes because I’m finding it hard to square:

    1) “he does not oppose segregation in mosques”

    with

    2) “The scope would be to prevent anybody who owns a public hall, place of celebration or community gathering to actually say that one section of the community is barred from entering.”

    Isn’t a mosque a “place of celebration” and a “community gathering”?

    My gut instinct is that Fitzpatrick’s thinking may well be as muddled as it appears in the article.

  19. Dalbir — on 3rd September, 2009 at 7:24 pm  

    Does this mean that Jim is fighting for the end of single sex schools also?

  20. Leon — on 3rd September, 2009 at 7:47 pm  

    Leons’s *humour* is symptomatic of the present moral confusion. Change rooms and bathrooms must by necessity be gender segregated,not because of gender-apartheid, but for reasons for privacy and decency. It is for the same reason that even in mens bathrooms ( and womens of course) every toilet is segregated… in a closed cubicle.

    Decency? What a loaded term…

  21. chairwoman — on 3rd September, 2009 at 7:57 pm  

    “Muslims and orthodox Jews can do whatever they like in their mosques and synagogues, but when it comes to the public space, gender segregation should be illegal. When such segregation becomes insitutionalised, women inevitably suffer from it, becoming sidelinded and marginalised.”

    May I start by making clear that I personally see no need to segregate.

    If part of a public building is hired for a private function, then surely for the length of the hire, that part is not a public space.

  22. Ophelia Benson — on 3rd September, 2009 at 8:10 pm  

    Yes but Sunny – even if Fitzpatrick’s motives are suspect or mixed (I don’t know if they are or not – the wedding brouhaha is the first I’ve heard of him), that doesn’t mean that gender segregation is merely a matter of ‘choice’ any more than racial segregation is. It’s way more complicated than that. Just for one thing it depends on who is doing the choosing (and why and in what circumstances etc etc). Black students at Yale sitting together at lunch, one thing; white students at Yale sitting together at lunch, somewhat different thing; white governor standing in the schoolhouse door, totally different thing. Same goes for gender segregation. Even in situations where it seems to be freely chosen, it is shadowed by all the situations where it emphatically isn’t and where it is enforced by violence. It’s a very fraught ‘choice’ even when (apparently) freely made – so it’s way too simple just to call it a choice.

  23. Edna — on 3rd September, 2009 at 8:27 pm  

    So for perhaps 3 hours men can talk about cars and – shudder – sports to other men and wimmin can talk to other wimmin about breastfeeding and potty training.

    Is that so much of a hardship?

  24. Meet the Fitzpatricks — on 3rd September, 2009 at 8:32 pm  

    >>>Muslims and orthodox Jews can do whatever they like in their mosques and synagogues, but when it comes to the public space, gender segregation should be illegal

    That is just what I said above about Jim Fitzpatrick MP and his accomplices losing their sanity. The wedding was a PRIVATE religious function. When a group of white people engages in an “Eyes Wide Shut” style sexual orgy in a hotel or pub that too is a private function. May be Mr Fitzpatrick and his missus should confine their visits to those ( and then phone the local newspaper to commend them).

    Moreover the dishonest intentions of Mr Fitzpatrick MP are obvious in his voting pattern

    # Voted very strongly for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws.
    # Voted very strongly for the Iraq war. votes, speeches
    # Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war
    #Voted very strongly for introducing ID cards

    I am sure Mr Fitzpatrick MP does not have the balls to go to the Jewish center next to the place where the Muslim wedding was held ( click on the link under my name) and to even think of criticising a ‘segregated’ wedding there.

    What I find most outrageous however is the peversion of the political term ‘segregation’ by Fitzpatrick and his cohorts. It just shows that segregation—the worst documented and historical form of race discrimination against which people like Mandela , Malcolm X and even Barack Obama protested can be perverted into a completely different meaning for whites and Zionists like the Fitzpatricks and then propagated like the Emperor’s New Clothes by the yellow tabloid press.

  25. Don — on 3rd September, 2009 at 8:38 pm  

    Missing the point, Edna. It’s not about choosing to have a lad’s night out or a girl’s evening in or vice versa or whatever. It’s about the extent to which the segregation is imposed.

  26. Sunny — on 3rd September, 2009 at 8:50 pm  

    If your sister is getting married and it is ‘decided’ that it should be segregated, then yes you are ‘free’ not to attend your sister’s wedding.

    Then my sister could choose not to have a religious wedding right?

    I’m not sure why it’s so hard for people to understand that no one is being forced into legally binding segregation. This ain’t apartheid people.

    And anyway – since Fitzpatrick specifically says banning segregation outside of places of worship – all the examples raised here are irrelevant. What’s he’s saying is that organisations cannot organise private functions or civil society functions with their own rules.

    In other words your local council would be legally not allowed to have women only swimming. It’s a fucking stupid idea.

    Does this mean that Jim is fighting for the end of single sex schools also?

    Yes exactly. Ban all girls-only schools! It’s like South Africa all over again!

    If it’s on public property we should have every right to sit together, regardless of who the organisers are.

    No one is enforcing segregation in parks. You let me know when they do and I’ll be on the streets protesting with you.

    Right Ophelia – so I suppose you’re calling for the end of girls only schooling and women only swimming then?

    Or perhaps what you’re trying to say is that this law should only be applied to Muslims, because context matters. Everyone else isn’t blowing up stuff so we don’t have to worry about them.

    I think its hilarious people are actually trying to defend what Fitzpatrick is saying.

  27. Rumbold — on 3rd September, 2009 at 8:59 pm  

    I disagree with Fitzpatrick, but I wonder how much people have thought about this issue. Would we defend the right of a publican to bare non-whites for instance? Isn’t that essentially the same thing (i.e. people deciding what can be done on their property)?

    Leon:

    It is the same as the smoking ban, because it is trying to tell consenting adults what they can and can’t do on private property.

  28. Shamit — on 3rd September, 2009 at 9:04 pm  

    This was a private traditional wedding – and Fitzpatrick was a guest there. If he did not like it he should have left and kept his thoughts to himself. That’s what polite guests do.

    I would have some respect for “Jimmy the Saviour” if he was protesting against detrimental cultural traditions from all cultures and their impact on society in the public sphere.

    But this was a bloody wedding where people were having fun and people who can just step outside and talk to whoever they want.

    For god’s sake, I think no – I know we have far bigger problems than having a war against weddings where genders are segregated. By the way, same thing happened in Benazir Bhutto’s wedding with her consent- yeah what an oppressed woman she was.

    If someone wants to have a traditional wedding what business is that of the State’s or wider society? And all those who conflate this issue with the struggles of MLK, and Mandela — you lot need a reality check.

  29. Shamit — on 3rd September, 2009 at 9:16 pm  

    Rumbold -

    Would we defend the right of a publican to bare non-whites for instance? Isn’t that essentially the same thing (i.e. people deciding what can be done on their property)?

    No those are distinctly different issues.

    First – Who you invite to your wedding is a very personal decision and the state has no place to decide on that. Not choosing to invite someone at your wedding is your prerogative.

    Second – In case of the pub refusing service based on skin colour implies inferiority at worst and making you feel unwelcome at best. The gender separated weddings neither imply inferiority nor are they intended to make any guest of any colour, religion etc etc unwelcome. In almost all cases, guests are treated with respect and made to feel very welcome at weddings.

    The common law tradition of private property actually works in favour of the wedding rather than pub. Now, if in a wedding the women guests were treated worse than the men then i could see some relation to the case of the pub — otherwise they are completely different issues.

  30. Laban Tall — on 3rd September, 2009 at 9:20 pm  

    Is Mr Fitzpatrick arguing that when the servants clear the table, the ladies head for the drawing room, and the chaps break out the brandy and cigars for half an hour – is he saying that should be illegal ?

    (And segregation in the mosque IS for the sake of decency. As Jimmy Carter confessed -albeit about church – many a man has committed adultery in his heart when he should be thinking of higher things.)

  31. douglas clark — on 3rd September, 2009 at 9:23 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Interesting point about pubs. It’s only in the last forty years that the last hurrah of ‘men only’ public houses was finally killed off by legislation. Up here, that is.

    Now that really was segregation!

  32. Rumbold — on 3rd September, 2009 at 9:35 pm  

    Shamit:

    Okay, let’s take different example. What if the owner of a hall only hired it out to couples who were willing to segregate their guests?

    (I am not trying to play devil’s advocate here, merely work out what I think)

  33. Shamit — on 3rd September, 2009 at 9:46 pm  

    Rumbold

    I am not a lawyer but I think the race relations act 1974 along with all amendments protects everyone from being persecuted or being denied service etc on the basis of race, nationality, Religious belief, ethnicity.

    I think you would have a strong case against the hall owner if s/he tried to put this in practice. Also, it violates your human rights under European Human rights Act as well which we have accepted.

    This hall owner has no business telling couples how their guests should be seated and where — unless what they are doing is actually against the law — like serving cocaine with drinks etc.

    That’s my opinion but I am no lawyer.

  34. Shamit — on 3rd September, 2009 at 9:51 pm  

    On the other hand, I think the issue gets more complex if for example in a Hindu wedding reception held at a hall in temple complex, a couple wish to serve beef. Then I think the hall owner might have a right to put that in the contract.

    Common law is based on common sense and what Fitzpatrick did lacks exactly that.

  35. Rumbold — on 3rd September, 2009 at 9:57 pm  

    I think you are right Shamit, in that you have to look at it in a common sense way- on a case to case basis.

  36. anobody — on 3rd September, 2009 at 10:39 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I disagree with Fitzpatrick, but I wonder how much people have thought about this issue. Would we defend the right of a publican to bare non-whites for instance? Isn’t that essentially the same thing (i.e. people deciding what can be done on their property)?

    It’s not the same thing though is it?

    Where there is segregation (for example in the context of a wedding) there is no favouritism over groups, both men and women segregate, everybody wins.

    In your pub scenario, that is barring one group in favour of another and implies some sort of inferiority.

    Equating segregation, as in the context of a wedding, with racial segregation is asinine and is far fetched.

    Jim (my local MP) is clutching at straws, he’s going to be voted out come the next general election, and he’s trying to ratchet up support amongst the very few of his constituents who avidly read the Advertiser.

    On a side note – The East London Advertiser is struggling to keep afloat, which tells you how much of a following it’s bogus and sensationalist slant on non-issues actually generates.

  37. Shatterface — on 3rd September, 2009 at 11:43 pm  

    …and once again the thread focuses entirely on MR Fitzpatrick, not MRS Fitzpatrick, even though he left at her suggestion, because criticising a woman directly for refusing to sit where she’s told is too much for even the most fanatical of cultural relativists to stomach.

  38. Raul — on 3rd September, 2009 at 11:44 pm  

    Leaving aside the motives of the MP which diverts the discussion, segregation is illegal, women or men choosing to form groups is not segregation, asking or demanding women and men to sit separately is segregation, whether in private or public spaces and cannot be right on whatever grounds especially religious or cultural.

    Now I don’t see how anyone can defend this, what if a religious or community or any event requires people of a particular colour or whatever to be separate, as an individual no one is going to like or accept this.

  39. fugstar — on 4th September, 2009 at 1:31 am  

    Maybe he’s being very clever with his politics. Gives a lot of you the means to shoot your mouths off.

    Canning town needs a more civilised MP, i hope the diverse areas start getting them rather than these cowboys. maybe give it a few elections though…

    If you are a rubbish local government political/worker/teacher/doctor/nurse, diverse boroughs seem a logical workplace. Easy trendy ride. Your incompetence will not be burned out of you. No naders raiders to eyeball you, just neoliberalised have-a-go service providers competing for scraps.

  40. Sunny — on 4th September, 2009 at 2:15 am  

    shatterface: because criticising a woman directly for refusing to sit where she’s told is too much for even the most fanatical of cultural relativists to stomach.

    Ok, she’s just as stupid and annoying as her husband. That good enough for you? But she didn’t start the media circus after, he did.

    As for being told where to sit – have you ever been to a weddding? In most cases people get told where to sit. (the fact that most Asian families ignored the careful seating plans I laid out for my cousin’s wedding is neither here nor there…)

  41. dsquared — on 4th September, 2009 at 7:45 am  

    I idly recall that Fitzpatrick is a Glaswegian who made his career in the London Fire Brigade Union (which admitted women in the 1980s IIRC), so it would be very surprising indeed if he hadn’t at some point spoken at a sexually segregated Working Mens’ Club and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out he had been a member of one, though I can’t be bothered doing the research to find out.

  42. damon — on 4th September, 2009 at 8:55 am  

    Dalbir @ 14 – this is a bit harsh.

    ”Moral of the story for the Bengali community. Don’t invite white people to your weddings in future”.

    I’d love to hear the MP responding to this thread.

    And on what Don said @ 17 about being free not to attend your sister’s segregated wedding, I think I agree.

    Sunny said @ 26 ”Then my sister could choose not to have a religious wedding right? ”
    But maybe the sister doesn’t have a free choice.
    Weddings are dominated by culture and expectation.

  43. Jai — on 4th September, 2009 at 10:26 am  

    Before I say anything, let me emphasise that I don’t think men and women should be forcibly segregated during weddings, irrespective of the religion concerned (this practice isn’t restricted to Muslims).

    And yes, that includes Sikh weddings too — although it’s worth mentioning that men and women only sit separately during the ceremony itself, not during the rest of the event outside the room where the ceremony occurs, and even during the ceremony itself they sit in two groups right next to each other in the same room (ie. not out of sight of each other). If overcrowding results in the male and female groups spilling over into each other to some extent, generally nobody kicks up a fuss. Everybody mixes freely during the rest of the wedding, including during any communal meal (ie. “langar”) which the wedding party and the guests may eat on the temple/gurdwara premises. Also, there are are Sikh temples/gurdwaras in India where men and women don’t sit separately at all, either during weddings or during visits to the gurdwara in general.

    However…..

    (I am not trying to play devil’s advocate here, merely work out what I think)

    Well, I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate. Bear with me.

    1. If this is about misogyny or inferiority, what about non-Christians objecting to — for example — the notion of a father “giving away” his daughter to the groom at a Christian wedding, even if the act is largely symbolic these days ?

    2. Similarly, what about the custom of brides wearing white in order to signify “purity” (originally literally virginity), even though some women may wear off-white instead these days (in the spirit of being more realistic) ? Furthermore, let’s not forget that the groom wasn’t expected to similarly wear white.

    3. And, if we’re talking about people objecting to religious practices, what if — completely hypothetically — someone from a highly conservative non-Western background (especially from the older generations) objected to the whole “you may now kiss the bride” custom, considering that in some quarters of some parts of the world, such public acts of intimacy have traditionally been considered extremely inappropriate (even obscene) in front of other people and especially at events with sacred/religious overtones such as weddings ?

    In all three examples above, would the offended party have a right to ostentatiously walk out, kick up a huge fuss afterwards, and even agigate for such activitites to be made illegal in Britain ?

    Or would a different reaction be deemed more appropriate ?

  44. Raul — on 4th September, 2009 at 10:47 am  

    The question of a ban is pointless, what if women and men choose to sit separately, that’s entirely a non issue, the only issue is compulsion and that has to be illegal, and you can’t make your own rules just because its a private space, it has to be consistent with the rules and laws effective in the country you live, and that’s the only issue worth discussing instead of diverting the topic as many here are wont to do.

    Let’s deal with the issue of compulsion. If I walk into a wedding with a couple of friends whether its a girl or someone of another colour, race, religion etc I don’t expect to be told where they should be seated. That would not be right by any definition or standard, would it?

  45. The Common Humanist — on 4th September, 2009 at 10:59 am  

    Segregation infantalises grown adults.

    Plus a women didn’t like, in Britain, being told that her seating arrangements were dictated by plumbing and an mysoginistic cultural interpretation of religion.

    And the ‘progressive’ PP is enraged at her???? Bizarro. Perhaps this site should be PP (Islamist Wing) instead?

  46. Alex — on 4th September, 2009 at 11:07 am  

    That would be the same Jim Fitzpatrick who filibustered Paul Farrelly’s bill to give agency workers the same employment rights as everyone else.

    “Underneath the pile of turds…there’s another pile of turds!

  47. fugstar — on 4th September, 2009 at 11:28 am  

    42.

    Weddings have a ‘cultural lag’ of about a generation.

  48. Dalbir — on 4th September, 2009 at 3:57 pm  

    #42

    Placing a private function you have been invited to in the middle of a negative media vortex is a lot more harsh……if you ask me.

  49. Rebrander — on 4th September, 2009 at 4:02 pm  

    Boris Johnson’s has just visited the London Muslim Centre (strangely with no spoiler alerts from Harry’s Place or its sister site Spittoon)

    “Boris Johnson also refused to call for a ban on segregated events and criticised Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick for walking out of a Muslim wedding because he could not sit with his wife. ”

    http://www.eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk/content/towerhamlets/advertiser/news/story.aspx?brand=ELAOnline&category=news&tBrand=northlondon24&tCategory=newsela&itemid=WeED04%20Sep%202009%2014%3A49%3A04%3A603

  50. Ophelia Benson — on 4th September, 2009 at 6:45 pm  

    “Right Ophelia – so I suppose you’re calling for the end of girls only schooling and women only swimming then?

    Or perhaps what you’re trying to say is that this law should only be applied to Muslims, because context matters. Everyone else isn’t blowing up stuff so we don’t have to worry about them.”

    Thanks, Sunny: that’s nice. No, I’m not saying that, as a matter of fact. And I didn’t straightforwardly “defend what Fitzpatrick is saying,” either – I argued that your “revolutionary idea that people are able to choose whether they want segregation or not” is too simple. Well I think it is.

    What if the issue were a wedding hosted by white people and they said white people were to sit on this side and non-white people were to sit on the other side – would that be fine too, because it’s private and their business and people can just put up with it for an hour or two etc etc?

  51. grapesoda — on 5th September, 2009 at 3:40 pm  

    post 5 joke or not is valid argument are we going to seek a ban on seperate male and female restrooms?

    how about hospitals mr fitzpatrick are you going to ban those mixed wards even when we have read of reports of women being sexually attacked in mix wards by some men.

    Jim fitzpatrick is a complete moron, it seems fuelling community hatred and yet more finger pointing towards certain communities is ok all because fitzpatrick has issues with members of his labour party who happen to be muslim how sad!

  52. Raymond Terrific — on 7th September, 2009 at 8:29 pm  

    Anyone who wants to go to segredgated wedding, where the segregation is based on some mumbo-jumbo about an all powerful man in the sky, gets all they deserve.

    Religious people are nearly always fucknuts. The more fervent, the more fucked. And Islam is a pretty retarded religion as they go. All that stoning shit.

  53. sidney — on 9th September, 2009 at 4:04 pm  

    #53

    So i guess the non religous stalin, hitler, pol pot, chairman mao, churchill must be ok in your book then with amount people they have killed?

  54. cjcjc — on 9th September, 2009 at 4:26 pm  

    Let me get this right.

    Voluntary sexual segregation is OK.
    (Or should that be “voluntary”?)

    So voluntary racial segregation is OK too.
    It’s therefore OK for the BNP not to admit non-whites.

  55. The Common Humanist — on 9th September, 2009 at 5:54 pm  

    Ophelia:

    “What if the issue were a wedding hosted by white people and they said white people were to sit on this side and non-white people were to sit on the other side – would that be fine too, because it’s private and their business and people can just put up with it for an hour or two etc etc?”

    Way past the boundary for 6! Spot on!

    Apparently segregation of any type is bad….aprt from when its muslims ’cause they get a special dispensation for being just being so gosh darn special. Or something like that. I think thats what Sunny meant. Possibly. Does he know? Or was he just rushing to bash a Labour MP and his wife who objected to being treated like a 7th century chattle in 21st century england?

  56. mrcooper — on 9th September, 2009 at 11:17 pm  

    everyone in poplar know’s fitzpatrick is on his way out at the next election. Its amazes me after the mp expenses scandal, an MP can stoop even lower and use a wedding event of a couple to gain political votes from people who lean on the right hand side if you know what i mean!

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