Fawcett legal challenge to government budget

On 30 July 2010, the Fawcett Society filed papers with the High Court seeking a Judicial Review of the government’s recent emergency budget.

Under equality laws, Fawcett believes the government should have assessed whether its budget proposals would increase or reduce inequality between women and men. Despite repeated requests, the Treasury have not provided any evidence that any such an assessment took place.

Click here for Observer report on 1 August 2010

Review on poverty and life chances

On 5 June 2010, the Government announced a Review on poverty and life chances.

Frank Field MP will chair the independent review on poverty in the UK and what the Government can do to improve the lives of the least advantaged people in our society. The Review will report to the Prime Minister by the end of 2010.

Click here for announcement

Equality Act 2010

On 8 April 2010, the Equality Bill received royal assent.

The Equality Act strengthens protection against discrimination by:

1. Introducing a new public sector duty to consider reducing socioeconomic inequalities;

2. Putting a new integrated Equality Duty on public bodies;

3. Using public procurement to improve equality;

4. Banning age discrimination outside the workplace;

5. Requiring gender pay and employment equality publishing;

6. Extending the scope to use positive action;

7. Strengthening the powers of employment tribunals;

8. Protecting carers from discrimination;

9. Clarifying the protection for breastfeeding mothers;

10. Banning discrimination in private members’ clubs;

11. Strengthening protection from discrimination for disabled people; and

12. Protecting people from dual discrimination – direct discrimination because of a combination of two protected characteristics.

 

 

European recommendation on sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination

On 31 March 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The recommendation (CM/Rec(2010)5f) establishes how international human rights standards should be applied to LGBT people and contain specific measures for Member States on how they should improve their legislation, policies and practices to address discrimination against LGBT people in such areas as hate crime and hate speech; freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly; the right to respect for private and family life; employment; education; health; housing; sports; and the right to seek asylum.

Additionally, the Recommendations prescribe that Member States should ensure that national human rights structures are clearly mandated to address discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. They also encourage Member States to address multiple discrimination experienced by LGBT people.

Click here for link to recommendation

Click here for ILGA Europe press release

UK breach of Equality Directives

In November 2009, the UK was found by the European Commission to have incorrectly implemented two EU Equality Directives. The first breach concerns the EC Equal Treatment Framework Directive, which prohibits discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.  The second relates to the EC Equal Treatment Directive, which covers equal treatment between men and women in employment.

Click here for HRreview report

EHRC human rights strategy

On 10 October 2009, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) set out its plan to preserve the rights in the Human Rights Act and to protect and promote respect for human rights principles.

One of the core principles in the Commission’s three-year strategy is for any future legislative developments, such as a proposed Bill of Rights, to have the rights and remedies of the Human Rights Act at their heart, so that the protection it provides is retained.

The Commission’s strategy aims to create a climate of respect for human rights – through promoting understanding, demonstrating the value of human rights law in people’s everyday lives, and using its legal powers.

It intends to promote widespread and accurate understanding of human rights and help to translate the law into practical action by public, private and voluntary organisations.

The Commission will develop innovative ways to measure the performance of government and public authorities on human rights and work to strengthen the degree of accountability of the UK Government to the United Nations in relation to torture, race discrimination and disability rights.

In July this year, the Commission published its Human Rights Inquiry. With evidence gathered from more than 2,800 people, it is the most comprehensive research to date into the Human Rights Act’s first ten years and how human rights principles have been adopted by public institutions.

The Inquiry found that eight in ten people in Britain want human rights protection enshrined in the law and recognise the importance of human rights in creating a fair and equal society. It also revealed that where a human rights approach is incorporated into the delivery of public services, both users and providers benefit.

The Commission is inviting feedback on the strategy and will be discussing the most effective way to implement its aims, objectives and proposed actions with interested parties.’

Click here for details

Click here for details of the EHRC human rights inquiry

European ruling on compulsory retirement age

On 5 March 2009, the European Court of Justice published its ruling on the challenge to the UK’s compulsory retirement age.

The decision confirmed that European Member States have ‘the option to provide, within the context of national law, for certain kinds of differences in treatment on grounds of age if they are “objectively and reasonably” justified by a legitimate aim, such as employment policy, or labour market or vocational training objectives, and if the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary. It imposes on Member States the burden of establishing to a high standard of proof the legitimacy of the aim relied on as a justification.’

Click here for ruling

Click here for Discrimination Law Association briefing by Gay Moon

Click here for Guardian report of the decision