UK Parliament set to vote on whether 'upskirting' is a hate crime

The bill would criminalize "upskirting" in England and Wales.

September 05, 2018, 11:32 AM

LONDON -- British lawmakers are set to vote Wednesday on whether "upskirting" constitutes a hate crime in the United Kingdom.

The term “upskirting” refers to the act of taking a photograph underneath someone’s skirt or dress without prior consent. Though already illegal in Scotland, the proposed bill will make the offense punishable by a maximum sentence of two years in prison in England and Wales, according to The Guardian.

Two-thirds of girls and women in the U.K. ages 14 to 21-years-old have reported suffering sexual harassment or unwanted sexual attention in a public place, according to a survey released Wednesday by Plan International U.K., a global children’s charity based in the U.K. The survey also found that nine percent had been subjected to upskirting.

PHOTO: In this file photo shows a general view of the interior of The Commons Chamber at the Houses of Parliament in central London, Nov. 12, 2015.
In this file photo shows a general view of the interior of The Commons Chamber at the Houses of Parliament in central London, Nov. 12, 2015.
Justin Tallis/Pool/Reuters, FILE

This is the second time the bill has come to Britain's House of Commons. A member of parliament from the Conservative Party, Sir Christopher Chope, 71, controversially blocked the first attempt to pass the legislation in June; he told a local newspaper in England, the Bournemouth Daily Echo, that while he thought upskirting should be illegal, he thought the proposed law required further scrutiny.

We protect women in the workplace from discrimination on grounds of their sex, but not in the courtroom.

At the time, Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted she was "disappointed" with the delay. She described upskirting as “an invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed."

Last week, Stella Creasy, a member of parliament from the Labour Party, put forward an amendment to the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill that would add misogyny as an aggravating factor, to be considered by the judge during sentencing, according to ITV.

“We protect women in the workplace from discrimination on grounds of their sex, but not in the courtroom,” Creasy said in a statement Tuesday. “It's time to learn from where misogyny has been treated as a form of hate crime and end this gap.”

PHOTO: Sir Christopher Chope, speaking in the House of Commons, plans to criminalize "upskirting," June 15, 2018, in London.
Sir Christopher Chope, speaking in the House of Commons, plans to criminalize "upskirting," June 15, 2018, in London.
Press Association via AP

Should parliament members vote to accept the amendment, this will likely be the first step to making crimes motivated by misogyny in the U.K. recorded and prosecuted in the same way as in other recognized hate crimes, such as those based on race, religion and sexuality.

Section 145 of the U.K. Criminal Justice Act compels the courts to dispense harsher sentences in hate crime cases.

PHOTO: MP Stella Creasy leaving BBC TV studios after being interviewed about Wonga going into administration, Aug. 31, 2018, in London.
MP Stella Creasy leaving BBC TV studios after being interviewed about Wonga going into administration, Aug. 31, 2018, in London. Pictured: MP Stella Creasy Ref: SPL5019515 310818 NON-EXCLUSIVE Picture by: SplashNews.com Splash News and Pictures Los Angeles: 310-821-2666 New York: 212-619-2666 London: 0207 644 7656 Milan: +39 02 4399 8577 Sydney: +61 02 9240 7700 photodesk@splashnews.com World Rights,
SplashNews.com

The campaign to outlaw upskirting in England and Wales has been led by freelance writer Gina Martin, who shared her experience after a man took a picture up her skirt at a music festival last summer, according to The Guardian. Police made him delete the photo but closed the case without prosecuting, she told the website RightsInfo.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events