Segregation storm over Labour rally
Men and women on different sides of the aisle... again
LABOUR was caught up in another sex segregation row yesterday after pictures showed Muslim women sitting apart from men at a by-election campaign event.
Only young women were visible on one side of the audience listening to speakers including Oldham West and Royton candidate Jim McMahon. Across the aisle, only men could be seen, apart from a couple of white women.
After a Labour MP tweeted the pictures, Ukip – which is fighting to overturn the late Michael Meacher’s 15,000-vote majority in Thursday’s by- election – accused its opponents of hypocrisy in claiming to be the party of equality while supporting segregation.
But Labour denied there had been any segregation by gender at the event – which was organised by Labour Friends of Bangladesh – with one Muslim MP putting the arrangement down to the young women’s cultural sensitivities.
About a fifth of voters in Oldham are from an ethnic minority, with 17 per cent of residents saying they were Muslim in the latest census.
Pictures of the campaign event in Oldham over the weekend were posted on Twitter by Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP for neighbouring Oldham East and Saddleworth.
However, they quickly drew comment for the apparent separation of men and women – and were compared to similar scenes at a Labour rally in Birmingham in May.
Ukip by-election candidate John Bickley said: ‘Is this really Labour’s modern Britain? Where a political event is segregated by gender?
‘For a party that claims to be progressive, Labour seems to accept some pretty funny ideas about gender equality if they think them electorally helpful.’
Party leader Nigel Farage said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership need to ask themselves some searching questions about what they are for in the modern world, as they certainly no longer represent equality in modern Britain.’
A Labour spokesman denied claims that the meeting had been segregated, adding: ‘ Ukip are clutching at straws for something to say in this election.’
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, who was at the event, said the young Muslim women had sat together voluntarily because they were more comfortable in a group.
Separate: The campaign event in Oldham at the weekend