When is a woman in Britain no longer accepted as an equal citizen able to take part in public life on the same terms as a man? When she is viewed through the eyes of someone whose mindset is steeped in a religious tradition that abhors the idea; and whenever that person is given the privilege to wield a “it’s my religion – get out the way” card to impose this sentiment on the rest of society.
The recent cowardly and mindless decision by Universities UK to accommodate some religious speakers’ preference for gender-segregated seating for audiences is a clear example of why we need a secular society that can balance and protect the rights of all citizens, religious or not, fairly and equally.
As long as freedom of religion is valued higher than our freedom from it, we can expect to see more attempts at eroding our democratic values. Let’s hope Scottish universities will not become afflicted with the same memory loss regarding the definition of gender equality and its universal application in public life.