Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

'Shame!': Lone Tory MP blocks British 'upskirting' law

'Shame!': Lone Tory MP blocks British 'upskirting' law

An attempt in the United Kingdom parliament to make upskirting a specific criminal offence was blocked by a Tory MP this afternoon, as shouts of "shame" rang out in the House of Commons.

UK Justice Minister Lucy Frazer called the practice "a ugly invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed".

She said making upskirting a specific offense would send a clear message that perpetrators will be punished.

"While we are disappointed this Bill did not pass second reading today, we look forward to supporting these measures through the House at the earliest possible opportunity".

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins, also minister for women, and Tory MP Will Quince (Colchester) were among those who said "shame" when the Bill was blocked.

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She hung up "knicker bunting" reading "no one should be able to photo my trousers unless i want them to" after he turned down the private members bill on Friday afternoon.

However, campaigners argue that current legislation does not adequately cover the practice.

The Bill, which would have progressed to the amendment stage before returning to the Commons and the Lords and, later, receiving Royal Ascent, will have to return for another Friday Private Members Bill session, on July 6, if it is to have any hope of becoming law this Parliamentary term.

However, the proposed Voyeurism (Offences) Bill was stopped on Friday when the lone MP objected to it being given a second reading in parliament.

She added that she had spoken with the Conservative MP since his interjection and hoped he would soon become a supporter of the bill.

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Upskirting - the act of taking a picture up a woman's skirt without her consent - has been the subject of a campaign by Gina Martin, a member of the public who was a victim of upskirting, who said she was "extremely upset and disappointed" by the objection. "We knew this was a risk - but I now stand with powerful, passionate women and men behind me".

"Labour have supported this campaign from the start, it's time for the Government to bring legislation and not rely on Private Members' Bills, which their own MPs have undermined".

Clare McGlynn, professor of law at Durham University and an expert on sexual violence, said: "The criminalisation of upskirting announced on Friday is a welcome first step towards a more comprehensive law protecting victims of all forms of image-based sexual abuse, which also includes so-called revenge porn". The law would create a new criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison.

The practice is already illegal in Scotland.

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