In February 2009, the Equality and Human Rights Commission received formal notification of accreditation from the United Nations (UN) as a National Human Rights Institute (NHRI).
This means that the Commission joins a growing group of human rights institutions across the globe tasked with monitoring and promoting human rights. NHRI status gives the Commission the opportunity to contribute to international law, policy, debate and understanding about human rights. The Commission can now participate fully in the Human Rights Council of the UN and will be able to make both written and oral interventions.
On 1 December 2008, protection under the Human Rights Act was extended to cover residents of independent care homes whose accommodation is publicly arranged.
Under Section 145 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, the provision of certain accommodation and care in a care home becomes a function of a public nature for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Click here for link to statutory instrument
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’.
Click here for judgement
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.
Click here for link
On 17 July 2008, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that treating employees less favourably because of their association with a disabled person was unlawful.
The case of Sharon Coleman, funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission jointly acting with solicitors Bates Wells & Braithwaite London LLP, was referred to the ECJ by an Employment Tribunal in order to determine if ‘disability discrimination by association’ is unlawful. Her case will now have to go back to the Tribunal for a hearing later this year.
In a statement, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said that ‘[t]he legal victory in Europe creates new rights for Britain’s six million carers, including those looking after older relatives’.
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act received royal assent on 8 May 2008. The Act introduces a new criminal of offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Click here for link to the Act
In April 2008, the Equality and Diversity Forum wrote to the President and Commissioners of the European Commission to express support for the proposal for a new directive to extend protection against discrimination in the provision of goods and services to cover all areas presently excluded including disability, age, sexual orientation and religion.
The letter was copied to all UK Members of the European Parliament.
Click here for link to letter
Sex discrimination regulations came into force on 6 April 2008.
They implement the Gender (Goods and Services) Directive 2004/113/EC and correct the shortcomings in the UK implementation of the Equal Treatment Amendment Directive 2002/73/EC identified in the case of Equal Opportunities Commission v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry  EWHC 483 (Admin).
Click here for Statutory Instrument (656)
Click here for Statutory Instrument (963)
On 23 November 2007, EDF and JUSTICE held a conference about multi-dimensional discrimination in London attended by eighty participants.
The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness of multidimensional discrimination among policy makers and NGOs, and in particular with officials working on the discrimination law consultation and representatives of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR). The keynote speaker was Niall Crowley, Chief Executive Officer, the Equality Authority, Ireland. Other speakers were Gay Moon, Head of the Equality Project at JUSTICE; John Wadham, Group Director Legal, Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC); and Rosalind Hardie Ejiohuo, Head of Equalities and Diversity, London Borough of Hackney. An afternoon discussion was chaired by Michael Rubenstein, publisher of Equal Opportunities Review, with a panel including Kirsten Hearn, community activist in LGBT and disability rights; Siyyara Hamid, FATIMA Women’s Network; Zohra Moosa, Fawcett Society; Dr Ranjit Arora, Policy Research Institute on Ageing and Ethnicity; and Bryan Teixeira, Naz Project London.
Click here for speech by Niall Crowley
Click here for presentation by Gay Moon
Click here for speech by John Wadham
Click here for presentation by Rosalind Hardie Ejiohuo
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (previously known as the Commission for Equality and Human Rights) opened on 1 October 2007.
It replaces the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), as well as enforcing legislation protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of age, religion and belief, sexual orientation and transgender status and promoting compliance with the Human Rights Act.
Click here for the Commission’s website