Tory MP wants to axe ‘Women’ from Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Two Tory MPs want to drop ‘Women’ from Parliament’s Women and Equalities committee… because it’s apparently unfair to gay people.

Philip Davies, who was last year elected unopposed to the Parliamentary committee responsible for scrutinising the government’s equalities work, made the demand in the Commons.

The MP for Shipley is an outspoken critic of the women’s rights movement, and previously faced questions over his ties to the so-called ‘Justice for Men and Boys party’ – which issues awards for “lying feminist of the month”, and affirms on its website that “feminists are whiny, gormless, toxic liars”.

Mr Davies urged the Leader of the House to “bring forward proposals to change the name of the Women and Equalities Committee to the Equalities Committee”.

He was backed up by fellow Tory MP David Nuttall, who argued that “the black and minority ethnic or the gay and lesbian communities might feel that the title of the Committee suggests it will be giving priority to the concerns of women over their own concerns”.

Mr Nuttall’s concern for the feelings of “the gay and lesbian communities” is surprising, given he strongly opposed same-sex marriage.

Though the committee scrutinises the work of the Minister for Women and Equalities, Mr Davies insisted: “Every single departmental Select Committee is named after the Department it scrutinises. I am also on the Justice Committee, which scrutinises the Ministry of Justice.

“The only exception is the Women and Equalities Committee, which shadows the Government Equalities Office. Surely this Committee should be called the Equalities Committee.”

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Michael Ellis responded: “I gently say that achieving gender equality is good for everyone. For example, the introduction of shared parental leave allows men to take time away from the workplace to bond with their new children.

​”There are issues to be addressed for women. Names of Committees are a matter for the House and are considered with the Procedure Committee in the normal way.

“The Government currently have no plans to bring forward proposals to change the name of the Women and Equalities Committee. I have received no representations from the Committee to make such a change. Should the Women and Equalities Committee recommend such a change, the Government would consider such a request in consultation with the Procedure Committee.”


No other members of the committee supported the change.

Mr Davies is a strong opponent of LGBT rights, voting against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations in 2007 and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2013. He later claimed that giving gay people the right to marry discriminates against straight people.

He used the floor of the House of Commons to attack a secondary school in 2009, after it held an educational LGBT History Month production of ‘Romeo and Julian’.

Davies fumed: “It is better for pupils to learn about Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare, rather than politically correct Romeo and Julian.”

Labour’s Harriet Harman helpfully reminded him: “As far as I can remember, in Shakespearean times boys would play girls and girls would play boys, and the whole point was trying to work out which was which.”

Last year he filibustered an opposition bill to make inclusive sex and relationship education mandatory in schools.

In his controversial speech he claimed that “the culture of political correctness” led to sexual abuse, also linking sex education to a rise in teen pregnancies. He said: “One day everybody will have to conclude that what we need is less sex education, or even better, none… I hope this Bill goes absolutely nowhere.”

The MP is also known for campaigning for recognition for an ‘International Men’s Day and picking arguments with women’s rights campaigners – memorably clashing with feminist Labour MP Jess Philips on a number of occasions.

In one memorable clash with Ms Phillips in 2015, Mr Davies claimed to “always vote in favour of true equality”.

When she asked “Did you vote for gay marriage?”, he responded “Look, I don’t agree with gay marriage, why would I vote for something I don’t agree with?”