Friday, 3 August 2007

MPs question government commitment to equality

MPs, I read in the FT, have been concerned that the
the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, due to be launched on October 1, may “not be fully ready to take on its new work”.The commission, to be headed by Sir Trevor Phillips, will combine the roles of the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission.
They criticise delays by ministers in bringing forward a single equalities act designed to bring together previous anti-discrimination laws under a legislative umbrella.
part of the solution, they suggest, is to have a single equalities act.

Whilst I am all for a consistent approach I wonder what the implications are for all the current religious and religious institutional exemptions and consequent inequalities. Are we better off having a number of different acts -with targeted amendment or updates that don't affect other acts and possible additional acts -or just one act - that captures all of this? Legislative bureaucracy has many ways to slow down changes. I am undecided, pragmatically, whether a unification would help or hinder the removal of religious inequalities - for sure many will want to keep the "status quo". I optimistically and without good evidence conclude that if there is a unification move, this is a positive opportunity to campaign for removal of, at least, some religious exemptions. Watch this space.