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A Conservative Member of Parliament has single-handedly blocked a bill to make the photographing of women’s genitals without their consent – a disturbing practice known as ‘upskirting’ – illegal.
The private members bill to make upskirting illegal was brought to the House by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, and was widely expected to pass unchallenged after gaining support from the Ministry of Justice this morning
However, Parliamentary rules state that after 14:30 it requires just one MP to shout ‘object’ to block such a bill progressing.
The controversial rule had been engaged because Chope and fellow Tory MP Philip Davies decided to speak for four hours during today’s proceedings – a brazen process known as filibustering.
Tory MP Christopher Chope’s decision to shout ‘object’ to the bill was met with cries of ‘shame’ from other members.
Hobhouse, who brought in the bill, responded to Chope’s shameful objection by saying:
“Upskirting is a depraved violation of privacy.
It is outrageous that a single Member of Parliament has today been able to derail a much-needed and universally supported change in the law.
“This change would have protected women and girls across England and Wales and given the police the tools to bring the perpetrators to justice. This is too important to allow people like Sir Christopher to obstruct progress on this vital issue.“
Chope’s blocking of the bill also, unsurprisingly, sparked outrage on social media:
I am unspeakably angry. If you feel the same, please email Christopher Chope firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him why he thinks men should be allowed to photograph women's genitals without their consent.
— Rebecca Reid (@RebeccaCNReid) June 15, 2018
Christopher Chope has blocked the upskirting laws at the last minute. An unquestionable act of misogyny. How could anyone hate women so much that they would want it to be legal to take pictures of her genitals without her consent?
— Rebecca Reid (@RebeccaCNReid) June 15, 2018
Let’s read more about Christopher Chope, who reportedly blocked the upskirting bill. Punchline comes right at the end. pic.twitter.com/WwBrrUwyUi
— Sean Kemp (@Sean_Kemp) June 15, 2018
A government source also reportedly labelled Chope a ‘f**king lunatic”.
Just spoke in the pub to a junior Home Office Minister, asked them about Christopher Chope objecting to the proposed 'upskirt' bill. Direct quote "he's a f**king lunatic" – indeed.
— Rob (@PolicyRob) June 15, 2018
You can watch Chope’s objection to the bill below:
The bill was brought to the house following a campaign started by Gina Martin – a victim of the disturbing practice.
Martin said she was “extremely upset and disappointed” by Chope’s decision to block the bill, going on to say:
“We knew this was a risk, but I now stand with powerful, passionate women and men behind me and am confident that [justice minister] Lucy Frazer is committed to – and will- close this gap in law,”
Tory MP Chope has a long and brazen history of blocking similarly progressive private member’s bills:
On 12 March 2010, he was responsible for the blocking of a bill to protect poor countries from “vulture funds“, despite his party’s support for the bill.
On 11 October 2011, Chope raised an eleventh-hour objection to the Hillsborough debate taking place because he believed a debate about MPs’ pensions was more important. Cries of “shame” echoed around the chamber and Labour MP Jamie Reed said that the perpetrator should be “named and shamed” for raising the objection.
In December 2013 Chope objected to the second reading of the Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill in the House of Commons. Because of this, the Government decided to act under the royal prerogative of mercy. On 24 December 2013 Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a free pardon.
He came under criticism in late 2014 for repeatedly blocking a bill that would ban the use of wild animals in circus performances, justifying his actions by saying “The EU Membership Costs and Benefits bill should have been called by the clerk before the circuses bill, so I raised a point of order”.
On 28 November 2014 Chope, a private landlord, filibustered a Liberal Democrat bill with cross party support intended to make revenge evictions an offence.
In October 2015, Chope joined fellow Conservative members Philip Davies and David Nuttall in extended speeches, known as a filibuster, against a private member’s bill that would have placed restrictions on hospital parking charges for carers. Their actions caused the bill to run out of time.
However, his decision to block today’s bill will surely go down in history as Chope’s most despicable and shameless act.