News

Caroline Flint MP blames UEA voyeur on gender neutral toilets

UEA alumnus and Labour MP for Don Valley, Caroline Flint, has claimed that gender neutral toilets allowed convicted voyeur, Luke Mallaband, to harass women on UEA campus.

Participating in the first ever House of Commons debate on transgender issues, the Labour MP referred to the incidents at UEA when questioning the House on the safety of women in gender-neutral facilities.

She cited “a recent case at my old university, the University of East Anglia where they have gender neutral toilets, [and] discovered that a man was using that to harass women in those facilities and has been convicted on charges.”

Flint then asked Chair of the debate and leader of Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller to “make some comment about that issue and how we protect women from male violence in gender neutral environments?”

Luke Mallaband was convicted of voyeurism in October, having secretly placed phones in showers and toilets in several locations across university estates. However, it was noted during the criminal hearing that these incidents occurred in female only facilities, as well as in ungendered bathrooms.

Conservative MP Ms Miller responded to the question by affirming the separation between the issues of female violence and transgender rights.

“Giving rights or enforcing rights that one group has does not mean that we have to see those rights taken away from another group. I think we have to be careful in this place that we don’t appear to be undermining the rights of trans people [that] they are afforded under the Equality Act”.

She pointed out that “many organisations have had gender-neutral toilets for a great many years… if you go on an aeroplane, you don’t have a men’s and a ladies’ and you don’t see particular problems there.”

The Chair concluded by warning that discussions surrounding female violence and transgender rights risked being wrongly conflated: “I think we need to be careful that individuals are not necessarily using or perhaps misinterpreting what is a serious problem in terms of threats to women in those sorts of environments by undermining the rights of transgender people, which we should be upholding as Parliamentarians.”

Ms Miller’s rebuttals of Ms Flint’s comments were echoed by the opposition bench. SNP Member John Nicholson suggested that the Labour member’s question was irrelevant to the transgender discussion. “The point that has been raised is a matter for criminal law. This has nothing to do with transgender equality.”

Speaking to LGBT+ news website Pink News after the debate, Ms Flint reaffirmed that her question was one of female safety.

“The issue of concern raised during today’s debate was about women’s safety at the hands of men. I fully appreciate the risks faced by the transgender community who live with violence, intimidation and hate crimes.  I do not want women to be preyed upon, or vulnerable to, male violence in shared spaces.”

Historically, the Labour Party has generally supported transgender rights. Between 1997, when Ms Flint was first elected to office, and 2010 the Labour government gave transgender people legal recognition for the first time following the passing of the Gender Recognition Act in 2004. The Equality Act in 2010 also outlawed discrimination based on gender.

UEASU responded by publishing an open letter to Ms Flint, signed by multiple union officers, in which they demand that the she “apologise[s] for misrepresenting UEA and it’s students” and accuse her of “using transgender individuals as scapegoats.”

06/12/2016

About Author

caitlindoherty



Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/wp_35pmrq/concrete-online.co.uk/wp-content/themes/citynews/tpl/tpl-related-posts.php on line 11

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/wp_35pmrq/concrete-online.co.uk/wp-content/themes/citynews/tpl/tpl-related-posts.php on line 26
Calendar
November 2021
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  
Latest Comments
About Us

The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on Concrete.Editor@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.