Greg's Private Members' Bill, the Protection from Sex-based Harassment in Public Bill, passed its Second Reading in the House of Lords. One of the UK’s most respected lawyers, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar, who helped draft the proposed law, has been arguing the case for it.
“Today was an important day for millions of women in this country. The House of Lords decided to pass a new law that will make harassing a woman in the street because of their sex an offence.
“Being followed, having lewd comments made to them, being pestered by strangers – these are all very familiar to women and girls. It means that women change the way they use the streets – like not walking alone after dark, or keeping their keys in their hand for self-defence.
“If someone shouts racial abuse in the street at someone, everyone knows that it is not only unacceptable but criminal. It is illegal to sexually harass someone at work. But there is no specific criminal offence that makes it illegal to deliberately harass a woman in public even when it is the perpetrator’s clear intention to cause alarm, distress or humiliation.
“Earlier this year, the House of Commons passed my Private Member’s Bill to close this loophole and make it clear that it is illegal to harass someone in a public place on the grounds of their sex.
“Now the House of Lords has had the opportunity to debate the Bill in its Second Reading. One of the UK’s most respected lawyers, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar, who helped me draft the proposed law, has been arguing the case for it and will continue to do so as the Bill progresses through the House of Lords.
“If the Bill passes through its final stages, I hope it will change the culture. It will be crystal clear that women cannot be abused in public deliberately to frighten or humiliate them. The tiny minority of men who do this will have cause to think twice before harassing a woman. The police will know that they should take seriously women being followed or harassed. And more women will have the confidence to report such incidents, knowing that they will not be dismissed. And through all this, women will feel safer on our streets.”