In case anyone’s missed it, here in the UK we’ve got a shiny new coalition government, and one of the things they’re really keen on is cutting unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape. So they’ve started a website, the Red Tape Challenge, where they’re inviting people to comment on which areas of pointless regulation they think should be abolished. Note, regulation, NOT primary legislation: so this is supposed to be about the kinds of details which get set out in secondary legislation after Parliament has properly debated and decided the principles.
But then we get to the section on ‘Equalities‘. Unlike the other topic areas, here they’ve put the key piece of primary legislation up for comment, and the first question is: should we scrap it?
Let’s be clear. This is the Act which makes discrimination because of sex, or disability, or ethnicity, or pregnancy, or any other protected characteristic unlawful. It has provisions on equal pay. It deals with harassment on grounds of a protected characteristic. And our government is seriously asking whether it should be scrapped?!
Describing equality legislation as ‘red tape’ is outrageous and, frankly, offensive. Please go to the site – ideally before Wednesday 20 April, when it seems it might close for comments – and:
- point out that the Equality Act is primary legislation, not a regulation, and that it was supported by all the major parties only weeks before the last General Election;
- point out how improper this process is, when it appears to be asking about mere regulations but is in fact inviting criticism of the entire Act;
- explain why it’s important for discrimination to be unlawful;
- give examples of the difference made in people’s lives by the existence of equality law.
Thanks to the Discrimination Law Association newsletter!