Bevege achieves win for choice

bevegeA NSW tribunal has ruled it’s illegal to segregate public meetings on gender. The ruling, at the request of CLA member Alison Bevege, may have national and international ramifications.

Bevege achieves win for choice

Alison Bevege, a freelance journalist and a member of Civil Liberties Australia, has taken on the issue of gender segregation at public meetings in Australia…and won.

The Hizb ut-Tahrir group has been found guilty of discriminating against women after making Bevege sit with women and children at the back of a public meeting in western Sydney in October 2014. Her male companion was able to sit at the front.

Bevege (photo) originally complained to the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW, but it referred the issue to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The tribunal in March 2016 ordered the group to not discriminate by forcing women and children to sit at the back of meetings.

The decision may have national, and international, significance, Civil Liberties Australia believes. Others around the world opposed the practice of segregating women and children from men at public events are expected to take legal action as a result of the Bevege ruling.

The global, fundamentalist Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which wants Sharia law to rule in Australia, holds public meetings and rallies open to the public, expecting all attendees to conform to their rules. But they are no longer permitted to do so in NSW under secular law.

“If you want to have a public meeting in Australia you cannot have Sharia gender segregation,” Ms Bevege said. “They’re trying to normalise gender segregation, it’s in their constitution, but this (ruling) sends a strong message. What they’re doing is crushing the rights of progressive, secular Muslims and non-Muslims and they’re not allowed to do this in Australia,” she said.

Hizb ut-Tahrir claimed Bevege was an Islamaphobe and a bigot, and that Australian law could not dictate the religious affairs of its members at rallies.

In its decision, the tribunal found Hizb ut Tahrir guilty of unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sex and its leader Ismael al Wahwah personally responsible for the discriminatory conduct against women.

At public meetings in future, Hizb ut-Tahrir must display notices making it clear women can sit where they like and their ushers cannot force women to the back of the room.

News report http://tinyurl.com/zd4zfer   The formal decision: http://tinyurl.com/zy5o9yj

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2 Comments

  1. thanks everyone! It was a win in that particular case but the anti-Discrimination laws are weak. I won partly because Hizb ut-Tahrir are a political party not a religious group. If you can argue it is part of your religion, the law has a loophole that says you can discriminate against whoever you like on any grounds.

    This loophole is in NSW legislation at 56(d) of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977; in Commonwealth legislation at division 4, section 37 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 at 1 (d); and in the Constitution at s.116.

    What we have is a legal system that does not guarantee the rule of secular separation of powers. We have a legal system that elevates the power of the religious to do whatever they want in defiance of those powers.

    You can see that now in the UMA conference at Sydney Olympic Park – home of the Olympics, paid for by taxpayers – where they are now selling separate male and female tickets in order to segregate the room from left to right.

    I also won because they segregated front to back – because you have to prove you were given the service on less favourable terms. It will be hard for the next person to argue that left-to-right segregation is “less favourable”. This is very dangerous because of course you can see that it denigrates the right of women to equality. In every country in which gender segregation is normalised and widely practiced, women face terrible discrimination. It is a backwards step but our legislators are too busy turning a blind eye to the impositions of sharia on secular life to do anything. This will be a big problem in the future if it is not dealt with.

    Alison Bevege
  2. Well done Alison. Can someone now please go through the rest of the Sharia law book and ban every other custom of article of faith in there that runs counter to ‘western’ ways of life

    Aert Driessen

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