Equality tsar calls for end to religious vetting

There is no case for allowing religious beliefs to take precedence over equality laws when it comes to recruitment, according to the future head of the new super equalities body.

Trevor Phillips, who will become the chairman of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) next year, said British core values must be based on equality, which “trumped religious diversity”.

Religious groups have argued that employers should be allowed to vet candidates on whether or not applicants share their beliefs or if their lifestyles, such as homosexuality, conflict with those beliefs. The 2003 Employment Equality Regulations allow discrimination if “an employer has an ethos based on religion or belief” and it can be justified as a “genuine occupational requirement”.

But Phillips told the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee last week: “The rule is very straightforward – you compete for a job and you are judged on your suitability for that job. The question of other elements of your life should never enter into it.

“My concern is that policies have got to the point where we recognise differences even if it is at the cost of equality,” he said. “Diversity is not damaging to society what is damaging to society is the recognition of diversity without the recognition of commonality.”

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