On 6 October 2008 the Equality and Diversity Forum, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Bar Council co-hosted an event on ‘Prosecuting disability hate crime’.
Sir Ken Macdonald QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, gave the key note speech and Sarah Spencer CBE, Chair of the Equality and Diversity Forum, chaired the event.
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The judgement by Lord Justice Moses in the case of Southall Black Sisters and London Borough of Ealing was published on 29 July 2008.
Southall Black Sisters (SBS) successfully challenged Ealing Council’s decision to end funding SBS services to Asian and Afro-Caribbean women experiencing domestic violence. Lord Justice Moses’ ruling provides helpful clarification for local authorities, particularly in relation to the timing and importance of race equality impact assessments and the interpretation of measures required for community cohesion.
The ruling stresses the need to carry out an equality impact assessment before formulating policies and states that ‘[t]here is no dichotomy between the promotion of equality and cohesion and the provision of specialist services to an ethnic minority’.
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On 10 August 2008, Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights published its Twenty-ninth report on ‘A Bill of Rights for the UK?’.
The Committee recommends that strengthening the legal protection for the rights of vulnerable and marginalised people should be one of the principal purposes of any new Bill of Rights.
The report expresses ‘regret that there is not greater clarity in the Government’s reasons for embarking on this potentially ambitious course of drawing up a Bill of Rights. A number of the Government’s reasons appear to be concerned with correcting public misperceptions about the current regime of human rights protection. under the HRA. We do not think that this is in itself a good reason for adopting a Bill of Rights. As we have consistently said in previous Reports. the Government should seek proactively to counter public misperceptions about human rights rather than encourage them by treating them as if they were true’.
The Committee agrees that any UK Bill of Rights has to be “ECHR plus”. It cannot detract in any way from the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. But it should also be “HRA-plus”, that is. add to and build on the Human Rights Act (HRA) as the UK’s scheme of human rights protection. It is imperative that the HRA not be diluted in any way in the process of adopting a Bill of Rights.
The Committee is concerned that by making an explicit link between human rights and citizenship, the Government may foster the perception that non-citizens are not entitled to fundamental human rights. The Committee is strongly opposed to any UK Bill of Rights being called either a Bill of Rights and Duties or a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Rights should not be contingent on performing responsibilities. nor should a Bill of Rights impose enforceable duties on individuals or responsibilities which they are already required by the general law to discharge.
Click here for Volume I – Report together with formal minutes
Click here for Volume II – Oral and Written Evidence
On 21 July 2008, the Government published ‘The Equality Bill – Government Response to the Consultation’.
The publication gives further details of the content of the Equality Bill as well as summarising the responses received to the Discrimination Law Review consultation held in 2007.
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Research by Stonewall published in 2008 suggests that many faith leaders inadequately reflect their followers’ religious objections to lesbian and gay sexuality.
‘Love thy neighbour’, based on interviews with Jewish, Muslim. Hindu and Christian participants from across the north of England, found that many hold significantly more moderate views of homosexuality than is often claimed on their behalf.
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