Update: Sir Christopher Chope, the Conservative MP who blocked the upskirting bill on Friday, has said he supports the campaign to make this disgusting and degrading practice a specific criminal offence.
Following a campaign led by 26-year-old Gina Martin, the bill had been expected to pass comfortably through parliament on Friday.
However, 71-year-old Chope managed to block it singlehandedly by shouting "object" as the bill was read in the House of Commons.
He has since been rightly and widely criticised on Twitter, with Labour MP Dawn Butler branding his actions "disgusting" and fellow Labour MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan calling for his knighthood to be removed.
However, he also claimed he has been "scapegoated" – yes, really – and defended his decision to block the bill on principle because he believes "the government is abusing parliamentary time for its own ends" by trying to pass bills that haven't been debated.
He said too that he was "surprised" his decision to block the urgently needed and widely supported bill had provoked such an intense reaction.
"I spoke to Gina Martin, the lady who had been promoting the Bill as a victim herself, and she said she perfectly understood my reasons," he told the Bournemouth Echo. "We arranged to meet to discuss the matter further so I must admit I was surprised."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May has responded to the controversy by reiterating her intention to pass the upskirting bill into law.
"What we’re going to do on this upskirting issue is put in government time and make sure that legislation is there on the statute book," she said during a Sunday morning appearance on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show. "It is an invasive, offensive act and we need to take action against it."
Watch the prime minister discussing upskirting – and Chope's woefully misguided actions – in the interview clip below.
Sharing a statement on Twitter, Gina Martin has responded positively to Sunday's developments.
"Unlike Friday, today is a good day for the campaign, and when our bill goes through it will be a brilliant day for women and girls across the country," she wrote. Read her full statement below.
I've had a little time to reflect on Friday, so I want bring you in on everything that happened and how I'm feeling, because your support has really been unbelievable♥️— Gina Martin (@beaniegigi) June 17, 2018
(Media: please feel free to use this as a statement)#upskirtingbill #ChristopherChope #StopSkirtingTheIssue pic.twitter.com/o8y6IWvtZy
This piece was originally published on June 16, 2018 at 11am.
Following a campaign led by 26-year-old Gina Martin – who teamed up with Refinery29 to tell the stories of women who have been upskirted, and encourage the government to #StopSkirtingTheIssue – the bill has won widespread cross-party support.
It was expected to pass through parliament with ease yesterday, but Sir Christopher Chope – the Conservative MP for Christchurch – halted its progress by shouting "object" in the House of Commons. Under parliamentary rules, an objection by just one MP is enough to block a bill's progress.
Martin has said Chope told her he blocked the bill "on principle" because it hadn't been debated. She also said that Chope, who was knighted in the 2018 New Year's Honours for political and public service, "wasn't really sure" what upskirting is.
Labour MP Dawn Butler branded Chope's actions "absolutely disgusting", while columnist Caitlin Moran suggested that women should start referring to upskirting as "Choping" to help the MP understand what it is.
Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted that she was "disappointed" the bill had failed to progress. Check out a series of Twitter reactions below.
I thought l could not be shocked by the behaviour of some Tory MPs but this is a new low. This bill had strong cross-party support including the govt&many MPs from across the political spectrum, 'upskirting' is a shameful and degrading act and should be made a specific offence!😡 https://t.co/4PtJ8fs9Hr— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) June 15, 2018
Obscene. Today Christopher Chope, Tory MP for Christchurch, Dorset, blocked legislation against upskirting - taking crude photos of women against their will & without their knowledge. If you want to tell him what you think of this, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org— Sarah (@ScouseGirlMedia) June 15, 2018
The “IDEA” that upskirting is something you can have a stance on. That anyone could say “I’ve given it some thought and I’m in favour of the sexual exploitation of women.”— Daisy Buchanan (@NotRollergirl) June 16, 2018
Upskirting is an invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed. I am disappointed the Bill didn't make progress in the Commons today, and I want to see these measures pass through Parliament - with government support - soon.— Theresa May (@theresa_may) June 15, 2018
Sir Christopher Chope received a knighthood for political and public service - I am dismayed to think we hand out honours to people who block bills like this.— Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (@DrRosena) June 15, 2018
This is disgraceful - it's a disservice to politics and public life. His knighthood should be removed. https://t.co/CFoY8qmGLT
Jessica Taylor, a member of pop group Liberty X, responded incredulously to a man who suggested that "if women assumed some responsibility for their attire" – presumably by wearing trousers at all times – "they would not be in jeopardy".
Taylor rightly pointed out that upskirting "has nothing to do with women 'assuming responsibility for their attire' and everything to do with the perpetrators".
How dare you? I’ve had this happen to me numerous times,paps lie on the floor as you’re getting out of cabs & point their cameras upwards. It has nothing to do with women ‘assuming responsibility for their attire’ and everything to do with the perpetrators. https://t.co/UrAAOZQ0id— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaLibertyX) June 15, 2018
Sadly, this isn't the first time Chope has used his platform as an MP irresponsibly. In the past he has voted against equal pay, human rights and same-sex marriage, and in favour of abolishing the national minimum wage.
The next reading of the bill will take place on 6th July. Gina Martin has said that Chope has agreed to meet with her and lawyer Ryan Whelan to discuss the bill before its next reading.