An anti-feminist Conservative MP has spoken for over an hour against a domestic violence bill, in an attempt to block it.
Philip Davies MP told parliament that focus on violence against women but not men is 'discriminatory'. He added that attempts to prevent domestic violence are “political correctness” and “sexist against men”. His speech lasted for close to an hour and a half, in an apparent attempt to filibuster the bill by making it run out of time.
Survivors of domestic abuse who were present in the chamber, in a gallery above MPs, stood up and turned their backs while Mr Davies was talking by way of protesting his actions, victims' groups said.
While addressing the chamber, some MPs in the benches opposite laughed in disbelief, while his Conservative colleagues on the benches next to him turned away in apparent embarrassment.
SNP Eilidh White House, who brought the bill before parliament, issued a statement after the vote accusing Mr Davies of acting like "a panto villain".
MPs were debating whether to ratify the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty on domestic and sexual violence, which would improve protection and welfare provision for victims of domestic violence. SNP MP Eilidh Whitehouse brought the issue as a Private Member’s Bill. It was initially approved by the government in 2012 but has failed to make it into law in the four years since.
The bill has received cross party support and an open letter backing it was published in The Independent, signed by UN Women’s ambassador Emma Watson, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Dubravka Šimonović, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron.
If passed, the bill would require the government to put forward an official timetable to ratify the Convention as it agreed to in 2012.
Mr Davies, who represents the Shipley constituency, was last week elected to the Women and Equalities Committee. He is a long standing and vocal critic of women’s rights, saying not enough focus is put on men’s rights in law and politics.
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