Government to close religious discrimination loophole

New
laws to combat discrimination on the grounds of religion will be introduced by
the Government, the Prime Minister has announced.

The
Government hopes the measures will put an end to religious discrimination in
the provision of goods, facilities, services and premises. They will close a
loophole that currently means that while people are protected against
discrimination on the basis of colour, race, nationality or national or ethnic
origin, they are not protected against discrimination on the basis of religion.
The measures will address an imbalance which has emerged from case law where
Jews and Sikhs are afforded protection while members of other religions are not.

Home
secretary David Blunkett
said: "Faith plays a vital role in people’s lives – even for those who are
not overtly religious. It is a strength
of our society that people of many faiths respect each other and are able to
flourish and play a valuable role in our communities.

"We
have already taken action to implement EU regulations against religious
discrimination in employment and training, which came into force last year. We
have introduced tougher penalties for racial and religious hate crime and the
Crown Prosecution Service has reaffirmed its policy of prosecuting these crimes
vigorously. And we intend to look again at legislating against incitement to
religious hatred when an opportunity arises," he said.

"But
we believe there is also a need to ensure that people are not disadvantaged
because of their religion. While some religious groups may be afforded a higher
degree of protection from discrimination because they can also be defined by
ethnic origin, this is not true for others. These measures will ensure fair and
equal protection for all faiths."  

By Quentin Reade

 

 

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