Sunday, 17 August 2014

EHRC calls for evidence on religion or belief issues

Updated Tuesday

EHRC press release

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a major call for evidence from individuals and organisations about how their religion or belief, or that of other people, may have affected their experiences in the workplace and in using the services and facilities they need in everyday life. People can give their feedback at www.equalityhumanrights.com/religion.

The Commission wants to gather as much information as possible from members of the public, employers, providers of services, legal advisors and religion or belief organisations. This will be used to assess how employers and service providers are taking religion or belief into account and the impact this has on individuals. The work covers all faiths and beliefs and experiences in England, Scotland and Wales. We want to hear about the issues people face and how they find solutions. The Commission will also use the evidence as part of its work looking at how effective the current legislation is proving in practice.

Despite a number of high profile legal cases involving the manifestation of religion or belief, very little is known about how frequently these issues occur in practice…

More background on the policy objective Shared understandings: a new EHRC strategy to strengthen understanding of religion or belief in public life.

Some further detail is below the fold.

Update

Andrew Brown has written about this consultation: This attempt to redefine religious bias marks a shift from hard secularism

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has launched a consultation on whether it is handling religious equality appropriately. This marks a significant unease with the way in which equality law has dealt with Christians, in particular since 2010. The central question is whether there is anything more to Christian discontent than whingeing about the progress of gay rights…

…So the Evangelical Alliance, which claims to represent 2 million Christians, is asking its followers to write to the EHRC about their concerns. Given the strength of evangelical feeling against homosexuality, this could result in a lot of letters. The difficulty is that most of the alliance’s cases appear to the outside world to be Christians claiming that unless they can discriminate against gay people, they are themselves the victims of discrimination. This is not a view with wide appeal…

More detail from the EHRC

The Commission’s aim is to gather as much information as possible from individuals, employers, providers of services, legal advisors and religion or belief organisations. We will then use this information to assess how employers and service providers are taking religion or belief into account and what impact this has on individuals. The Commission knows that, despite a number of high profile cases involving the manifestation of religion or belief, very little is known about how frequently issues related to religion or belief occur in practice.

To address this information gap we want to hear about the issues people face and how they find solutions to them. Particularly we want to hear about both negative and positive experiences which have occurred since 2010, including:

  • How religion or belief or the lack of a religion or belief has affected the recent experiences of job applicants, employees or customers
  • Whether people are aware of their legal rights in relation to religion or belief, and if appropriate information and guidance is available to them
  • Views on the effectiveness of current equality and human rights legislation on religion or belief
  • The recent experiences of employers when these issues arise in the workplace
  • The recent experience of organisations providing services to the public when issues around religion or belief are raised.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 August 2014 at 12:15pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

Is the EHRC going to be inundated by aggrieved evangelicals protesting about being denied the opportunity to discriminate against same sex couples at their B&B or refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay marriage? I find this all rather worrying.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 18 August 2014 at 6:15pm BST

I wonder how the EHRC would respond to:

As a Christian I try my very best to live out my faith at work. This means I do not steal from my employer or colleagues, I don't lie or avoid the truth when questioned about important workplace matters (even from external investigators), I don't engage in sexual harassment or use strong or abusive language. I work very hard not to be a 'respecter of persons' meaning I treat people equally and fairly and I try to be a peacemaker. I try to all my work as though I am doing it for my Lord and creator. By wearing my cross I tell others they can and should expect this of me and when I fail I am not just letting them down I am letting God down. Yes, when people ask me why I am different I tell them. When they ask me can their lives be different I tell them how. There are thing I won't do or won;t engage in but there are plenty of others in the workplace that are more than glad to do these things ...

Posted by: Andrew F. Pierce on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 at 6:50am BST

It's a pity the EHRC didn't ask about religious organisations sheltering behind their exemptions from equalities legislation to discriminate in the workplace (or to force others to discriminate in the workplace) on grounds other than religion and belief.

"How religion or belief or the lack of a religion or belief has affected the recent experiences of job applicants, employees or customers."

How indeed. It is not just the "religion or belief" of the applicant, employee or customer that can affect what they experience.

Posted by: Turbulent priest on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 at 11:26am BST

I see no reason why persons with experience of discrimination allegedly based upon the exemptions for religious organisations should not respond to the consultation by describing the way they have been treated, and giving their opinions on why it was not reasonable.

Indeed, I think such responses should be strongly encouraged.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 at 11:58am BST

Thank you Simon, that's a way to do it. I have completed the questionnaire.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 at 6:57pm BST
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