Government launches discrimination law review consultation

The government has published a consultation on the Discrimination Law Review, which aims to modernise discrimination legislation.

It includes proposals for a Single Equality Bill that would will put the law on equality and discrimination in one place, supported by clear practical guidance.

Discrimination law is currently contained in nine major pieces of legislation, which the government believes can act as a ‘barrier’ to fairness.

Communities secretary Ruth Kelly said: “Equality law is not about some abstract concept. It is about how every one of us is treated at work, as a customer and consumer, and by our public services.

“Our consultation document aims to provide clearer and more effective protection from discrimination wherever people are faced with it in their everyday lives.”

The review calls for a full and informed debate before bringing forward legislation.

The issues and proposals the government will seek views on, include:

  • Private clubs and associations – preventing people setting up clubs that have membership targeted at one sex or group.

  • Asking whether the equality duties for public bodies should be simplified and extended. This could ensure a more strategic approach to tackling discrimination.

  • Improving access to and use of premises for disabled people. Currently, there is no duty for landlords and managers to make alterations to ‘common parts’ of rented or let properties, such as stairs, hallways and entrances

  • Asking what the most effective way is of tackling age discrimination outside employment. Areas that are raised include health services and financial services.

  • Improving the handling of discrimination cases outside the workplace. Explore setting up specialist courts at county level, with expertise in hearing discrimination cases.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, said: “The government is right to address the impenetrable thicket of equality legislation that too often leaves everyone baffled as to what our rights might be.”

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