The government has set out the details of its Equality Bill, which will create a single equality discrimination body and place a duty on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between men and women and prohibit sex discrimination in the exercise of public functions.
The Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) will offer a ‘one-stop shop’ for advice about discrimination and will have additional responsibility for policing discrimination on grounds of :
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation.
Duty to monitor progress
The CEHR will also have a duty to monitor progress on equality, human rights and good relations between communities, and to publish a regular 'state of the nation' report.
Secretary of state for trade and industry and minister for women and equality, Patricia Hewitt, said the CEHR will work with individuals, equality organisations, public bodies and employers to deliver lasting changes in policy and practice.
"It will have tougher powers to tackle discrimination, new responsibilities to foster good relations between communities and new ways of working to provide easier access to information and advice for individuals," she said.
At a glance
The Equality Bill will:
- establish the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) and to define its purpose and functions
- make unlawful discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the provision of goods, facilities, services, premises, education and the exercise of public functions (subject to certain exemptions)
- impose a duty on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between men and women (the gender duty) and to prohibit sex discrimination in the exercise of public functions.