Tyndmyr wrote:And yes...nobody is stopping the speaker from talking but him. That is not a violation of rights. He has an opportunity to speak, and if speaking in those conditions is against his beliefs, he may decline to do so. His choice. No force involved there.
As far as I understand the case study, the scenario is something like this:
You are the university management. One of your societies has organized an event and wants to invite a speaker to that event. You have already approved the invitation and so the society goes and tells the speaker they'd like him (or her, but I hope you won't find it too remiss of me to assume that in this case it's more likely to be a him) to speak at their event and he has said he'll do it but he wants the audience segregated. The question is then: can you, as the university management, turn around to the society and tell them they're not allowed to have that speaker because he wants a segregated audience?
This is a bit more difficult because it's no longer a case of just saying, if he doesn't want to turn up under your rules it's his choice; because "you" are no longer the one who invited him, you would have to deny a society the right to have the speaker they want attend the event, and to do that you would need a sound reason. As far as I can see that reason could be one of two things: either the belief that people shouldn't be segregated could fall under the definition of "belief" in the Equalities Act and therefore be protected or it could be impossible to segregate without discriminating. I am very much not a lawyer but my impression is that neither of these issues is strictly clear under UK law and would have to be put before a judge to decide, and would be very likely to end up there if this were to happen in actual practice, no matter what the university management decides.
My personal feeling is that given the historical context of attempts at "segregated but equal" it would be likely that a court could decide that segregation is impossible without discriminating against anyone (and I would agree with that ruling). I also find it slightly odd that religious belief gets a special place in law above any other kind of sincerely held belief and would argue that a belief that people shouldn't be segregated should
fall under the beliefs protected by the Equalities Act
but whether or not it does in legal reality is not something I'm qualified to comment on. Again I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am not in any way a lawyer and this is just, like, my opinion, maaaan.
: It's sort of assumed that the society is fine with him wanting the audience segregated and could just refuse to have him if they're not. However, at the start of the pdf that TheGrammarBolshevik linked it does goes on about putting rigorous and exhaustive processes in place to deal with things so it's entirely possible that a simple common sense solution like this could get lost in bureaucracy and it could be required
that the university management makes the decision.
: It's certainly one that I hold every bit as sincerely as a religious person might hold a belief in segregation