Dominic Raab has insisted he is a “staunch champion of equality” after being told to “eat his words” for calling feminists “heinous fanatics” ten years ago.
Appearing before MPs and peers of the Joint Human Rights Committee for the first time since his appointment as Justice Secretary, Mr Raab was told ‘we have a little air to do’ by President Harriet Harman.
In a frosty exchange on Wednesday afternoon, she also said that if she were to “watch out for all the misogyny of government ministers all the time”, she “wouldn’t have time to do anything else.”
Opening the session, she thanked Mr. Raab – as the Government’s principal minister responsible for human rights – for his presence and stressed that the committee had “very good relations” with his predecessor Robert Buckland.
She added: âI hope we can have a good respectful relationship with you on the same basis, but I have to say that we have a little bit of a vacuum to do at the beginning and I think it’s fair that I get to you. talk about it directly rather than complaining bitterly about it behind your back, and is that you’ve basically described feminists as some of the most heinous fanatics.
âNow, in your role as champion of human rights, you will, I hope, defend, protect and defend the rights of women and feminists, of which I consider myself a part. “
Describing feminism as’ defending women’s rights based on gender equality theory ‘, she added:’ Now some people, I mean it was in 2011 and some people said things. stupid in the past though, I don’t, but some people do. And I think it’s fair enough that we give you the opportunity, so that we can respect you knowing that you respect us, to just eat those words.
âBut to call feminists, of whom I consider myself one, as an obnoxious fanatic. You wouldn’t tell me that in the House, it would be out of order. So can you just eat your words on that and then we can move on. “
After saying that it was a “great pleasure” to be in front of the committee, Mr Raab replied: I will find out that I have been a strong advocate for equality and whatever label I put on it. , I am a strong supporter of equality. “
Referring to his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs and the appointment of G7 ambassadors “under my leadership”, he added: “I am very focused at the Ministry of Justice on the program to combat violence against women. for women and girls.
Asked by Ms Harman if he now sees himself as “aligned with the feminist cause, rather than seeing us as obnoxious fanatics,” he said: “Exactly as I articulated it, I consider myself a proud champion of equality in all its forms, and I would say the actions support that.
Thanking him for his response, Ms Harman added: “And as to the fact that I should have been after you in 2011 – If I had to control all the misogyny of government ministers all the time, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else, and so forgive me for not harassing you at this point. But now we have to have a good relationship, and I hope we can, that’s why I brought it up now. “