The government has committed to making ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence in government time, after Wera Hobhouse brought a Private Member’s Bill to parliament on Friday.
The bill made national headlines after Tory backbencher Christopher Chope objected, incurring the wrath of the internet, MPs across the house, and activists who strung underwear outside his constituency and parliamentary offices.
The government failed to prevent Christopher Chope from vetoing the bill, despite the fact that Wera’s bill had their full support.
The Cabinet met on this morning following the public outcry, and agreed to make Wera Hobhouse’s bill law, and take it on through Parliament themselves.
This afternoon, Wera Hobhouse was given an urgent question, to raise the matter in the chamber again. Wera asked:
“Will [The Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice] make a statement on the Government plan to legislate making upskirting a specific sexual offence.”
Lucy Frazer, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice said:
“Mr Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to answer the urgent question of the honourable member for Bath on the question of upskriting, becase she and Gina Martin have campaigned tirelessly for upskirting to become a criminal offence. I'm delighted to have met both of them on multiple occasions to discuss how we progress this important legislation, and to have worked with them to support the Honourable Member for Bath’s upskirting Private Members Bill, and I welcome Gina Martin to the house today. We will continue to build on their efforts to ensure that this activity becomes a criminal offence.”
Gina Martin, who fell victim to upskirting at a music festival last summer and started the campaign in response, was in attendance in Parliament again today, and thanked by MPs across the house for her efforts.
Wera said: “I’m very happy that the law is changing, and this is a huge victory for women across the country. I obviously would like this to go through on Friday 6th July, but my main concern now is that the law is changed as soon as possible.
“It seems unfair how just one person was able to block a bill that we had spent so long building such cross party consensus behind, but Private Member’s Bill reform is a job for another day.”
“I’d like to thank everyone who has written to me over the weekend sharing their stories, and I know how much this means to so many. Thank you for your support throughout this, the law would not be changing without you.”