Originally published: April 25, 2017
UK equality laws, democracy and our largely tolerant multi-cultural society are precious and it is time we stopped paying attention to headlines and focused a bit more on legal accuracy. Without a clear understanding of where we are, it is impossible to make rational decisions on how to move forward at home and at work.
Let’s start by getting some facts straight.
- Where our equality laws came from: UK equality legislation pre-dated our accession to the European Community and, by and large, equality law has developed in the UK in advance of EU equality laws. UK equality laws are not an invention of the EU: they were implemented by successive democratically elected UK governments (both from the right and the left). It is, in reality, rare for the desirability of equality to be challenged by ordinary people.
- Scope: Along with other EU member states, we currently have UK laws protecting individuals against discrimination on a range of grounds, including for example sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, race, religion and belief, age and disability. These laws are best known for their application to employment but they can, in some circumstances, apply elsewhere, for example to access to goods and services and to schools.