Tory MP blocks new upskirting law which would make taking photos up people's skirts illegal
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A Conservative MP blocked a Bill in parliament which could have seen upskirting made a criminal offence in England and Wales.
Upskirting is when photos are taken underneath someone’s skirt without their consent.
People who have been upskirted often say they experience emotional distress, but due to a legal grey area upskirting isn’t actually illegal, meaning the police are essentially powerless to prevent or punish those who upskirt.
It is an offence to upskirt in Scotland though after it was made illegal in 2010.
A Voyeurism (Offences) Bill, to legally include upskirting under Voyeurism laws, was proposed by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, but when the Bill was read out in parliament today Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope shouted “object”. As Sir Chope objected to the bill its progress was subsequently stalled.
Under parliamentary rules it only takes one MP to object to a Bill for its progress to be stalled, had no MP’s objected the Bill would have passed without a vote and progressed to the amendment stage before returning to parliament and then eventually receiving Royal Ascent, meaning it was officially made law.
Ms Hobhouse has criticised the "out-of-touch Tory" for "sabotaging" the Bill and asked for it to return for another hearing on July 6.
The proposed new law would carry a maximum two-year sentence, and in very serious cases would also allow those convicted of upskirting to be placed on the sex offenders register.Following Sir Chope’s actions, a government spokesman said: "Whilst 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."
The campaign to make upskirting against the law was started by 26-year-old Gina Martin after she experienced a man taking an upskirt photo of her at a music festival in July 2017. Despite immediately going to the police, Gina was told they couldn’t pursue criminal charges against the man, “because her genitals were not visible” in the photo the man had taken as she was wearing knickers.
Earlier today Ms. Martin said she was "extremely upset and dissapointed", however, she has arranged to meet with Sir Chope to discuss the Bill, adding: "I'm positive and hopeful that he will become a supporter."