Lamont’s amendment was defeated by 68 votes to 53.The National: Freedom of expression amendments added to controversial Hate Crime Bill
Why? How can this be? It is already incredible that sex was omitted as a protected characteristic. Now we’re being asked to accept that it is to be deliberately excluded. Why? Why would anyone do that? It quite literally makes absolutely no sense whatever!
Setting aside, for the purposes of discussion, all the arguments about women being most likely to be the victims of abuse and negative discrimination, the choice to exclude sex is bewildering on grounds of logic alone. What the Hate Crime Bill is supposedly seeking to address is conflict between or among different categories of people. Let’s not try to deny that there are such categories. Or that some of them are perfectly ‘natural’. It tends to be the human-made categories and sub-categories and seemingly endless sub-divisions of humanity which are associated with conflict – even if a simplistic analyses associates the conflict only with the first and/or largest and therefore most obvious category.
Sex is a natural category. It is also associated with very significant levels of conflict – at least by a woefully shallow analysis. That is two overwhelming reasons for including sex as a category in legislation that purports to be about conflict between categories that reaches a level which may be considered criminal. So why is sex not a category? It is incomprehensible that it should not be.
Both Joan McAlpine and Johann Lamont present solid arguments. But I would like to correct the latter on one point. She says,
I want to include sex as an aggregator and to define sex in itself in terms of the Equality Act. These are simple proposals. They were supported by Lord Bracadale, who described the omission of sex as a lost opportunity. They are supported by many, many women and the men who stand with them.
I am a man. I want sex included as an aggregator not only to “stand by” women who want the same but because what we want is the same. If sex is excluded then this means men are excluded every bit as much as women. Let’s be clear that the consequences of being excluded are almost certainly much worse for women than for men. But if there is a principle involved – and there bloody well is! – then that principle is the same for both sexes.
I have come late to what is euphemistically called the ‘debate’ around GRA reform and the Hate Crime Bill. I regret that. I had my reasons. I now consider those reasons inadequate. But we are where we are. And where we are is not a good place. In fact, it is a distinctly unhealthy place. Had more men been prepared to speak out against their sex being denied as a valid and in itself unproblematic category of human being, we might have been in a better place.
This being so, the onus must surely be on men to rectify the situation. If it is our neglect which has given rise to the affront to reason and integrity that is being perpetrated then surely we men must contribute proportionally more to the effort to put things right. It is not too late. Laws can be repealed or amended. They are, like a preponderance of the categories which sort and rank humanity, human-made things. What we have made we can remake. So let’s do that.
I am angry. I am angry on behalf of women. But they have their own anger and little need of mine. I am angry on behalf of my own sex – a category to which I have belonged my entire life. A category that will not change as long as I live. A category I am content with. If my own government declines to recognise this category then it is only to be expected that I should be angry.