Saturday, 30 May 2009

equality bill - what are the changes?

As you can see from earlier articles here, there is a considerable fuss about certain clauses in the new Equality Bill. The main, but not the only fuss, relates to sexual orientation.

To understand this subject, you need to have the actual texts, not only of the proposed clauses, but also of the current legislation that they are intended to replace.

Current legislation:

Regulation 7 of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.

Amended version of Clause 19 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

Proposed legislation:

Equality Bill, Schedule 9, Clause 2. On this copy I have underlined those parts of the new wording that are, in my opinion, significant.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 2:58pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation

Nothing controversial about that at all. Clearly religionists cannot expect carte blanche to avoid the law and exemptions were always meant only to cover the direct religious roles.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 6:01pm BST

Looks from this as if a gay RE teacher could still be sacked from a church school, or am I mistaken?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 8:08pm BST

I was struck by this phrase
"the application is a proportionate means of avoiding conflict with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers."

So how is "a significant number" defined? For example - a significant number of Christians in the Church of England might think that gay bishops are wrong. Equally a significant number might think that it is not a problem.

If there is such disagreement within the church over these "strongly held religious convictions" how does the court make sense of that?


Posted by: Simon Robert Dawson on Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 11:01pm BST

Fr Mark

Not merely an RE teacher, but any teacher. Though it depends on exactly what kind of church school is involved.

School Standards and Framework Act 1998 Clause 60, para 5 applies to "voluntary aided" schools only.

60 Staff at foundation or voluntary school with religious character...

(5) If the school is a voluntary aided school—

(a) preference may be given, in connection with the appointment, remuneration or promotion of teachers at the school, to persons—

(i) whose religious opinions are in accordance with the tenets of the religion or religious denomination specified in relation to the school under section 69(4), or

(ii) who attend religious worship in accordance with those tenets, or

(iii) who give, or are willing to give, religious education at the school in accordance with those tenets; and

(b) regard may be had, in connection with the termination of the employment of any teacher at the school, to any conduct on his part which is incompatible with the precepts, or with the upholding of the tenets, of the religion or religious denomination so specified.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 31 May 2009 at 8:15am BST

Thanks for the clarification, Simon.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 31 May 2009 at 4:36pm BST
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