Government considers scrapping the Equality Act

I really, really wish that title was hyperbole. But it ain’t. It’s here, in plain and simple language, as part of the government’s consultation on “red tape“.

Equality regulations are designed to help ensure fairness in the workplace and in wider society. They include regulations and laws on discrimination and harassment.

You can find the Equality Act 2010 here

Tell us what you think should happen to this Act and why, being specific where possible:

  • Should they be scrapped altogether?
  • Can they be merged with existing regulations?
  • Can we simplify them – or reduce the bureaucracy associated with them?
  • Have you got any ideas to make these regulations better?
  • Do you think they should be left as they are?

It’s worth bearing in mind that the Tories weren’t particularly keen on the Equality Act during its passage, and now in power they’re doing their best to water down provisions such as the Public Sector Duties (which require public bodies such as schools and councils to ensure that they’re actively working towards equality bearing minority needs and issues in mind when making decisions). Many businesses and managers will be keen to see the Equality Act gone (or at least weakened), and are likely to say as much in this consultation.

Now, I hardly think the Equality Act is perfect. However, we’re definitely better with it than without: it has replaced numerous items of previous legislation and therefore contains a vast number of important protections on the grounds of disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, “gender reassignment” (that’s us!…sort of), sexual orientation, age and pregnancy.

On a trans-specific front, the Equality Act makes it illegal to discriminate against (most) trans people in education, the workplace and in goods and services (that’s stuff you buy and do, like going to a shop, staying in a hotel, or asking the police for help).

These gains, for trans people and everyone else, have been hard won. They could do with improvement (and why not suggest that “gender reassignment” is extended to “gender identity”, for instance?) but that hardly seems to be what this consultation is about.

Still, we can do our bit. Join with those who have left shocked comments on the page, take part in the consultation and tell the government how you feel about, y’know, having rights. Pass the link on to others, and help make sure that our voices are overwhelming. We need to tell the government that people come before profit!

2 thoughts on “Government considers scrapping the Equality Act

  1. For what it’s worth, I see this as an opportunity to change the uglier parts of the Equalities Act, such as the section that legalises discrimination against trans women.

    • Having looked over the current discourse a bit more, I’m inclined to agree with you. The Tories have not got positive changes in mind by making this move, and presenting a divided front isn’t in anyone’s best interests on such a vital piece of legislation.

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