Equality Bill 2003
The draft Equality Bill has been drafted for the Cambridge Centre for Public Law by Stephanie Grundy, in conjunction with Professor Bob Hepple QC, Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC and the Odysseus Trust. The Bill gives effect to the main recommendations of the Cambridge Centre for Public Law's Report, Equality: a New Framework, The Report of the Independent Review of the Enforcement of UK Anti-Discrimination Legislation (Hepple, Coussey & Choudhury, Hart Publishing, July 2000).
The Bill seeks to address the serious defects of current equality legislation, setting out a single framework for eliminating discrimination and promoting equality between different people, regardless of their racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sex, marital or family status, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age or disability. It has been drafted in response to the Government's continuing failure to conduct a widespread review of the present fragmented, inconsistent and unsatisfactory system of legislative protection against discrimination and to give effect to the recommendations made by the equality agencies and independent experts for the reform of the law. It goes beyond the minimum provisions required by the EC Race Directive (2000/43/EC) and the Employment Directive (2000/78/EC) in tackling all grounds of unfair discrimination in all spheres of activity, including employment, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services, the disposal or management of premises and the management of private members' clubs. It extends the positive duty requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 beyond race to sex and disability. The basic aim is to ensure the equal protection of the dignity and worth of every individual through a single coherent legal code. The Bill also establishes a single body, the Equality Commission for Great Britain, with a range of statutory powers to oversee the implementation of the Bill and to encourage and enforce observation of the Bill's requirements.
The Bill places emphasis on positive duties to promote equality, which do not depend upon the proof of fault by an individual complainant. Basing itself on British and international experience over the past four decades, it seeks to encourage an inclusive, pro-active, non-adversarial approach to fair participation and fair access while providing effective remedies and sanctions. We believe that is in accord with the UK's obligations under EC law, international law and European human rights law.
The Trust remains involved heavily in the campaign for a single Equality Bill. The legal officers are members of the Equality and Diversity Forum. This campaign has the support of all the Equality Commissions, major NGOs, Trade Unions and some employers groups.