Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's here!! (almost)

Harriet Harman today launched the government's plans for a new equality bill.

Some of the media reaction has been a little hysterical, to say the least.

The bill seems to me to be quite balanced and sensible (and needed). Seems there are proposals to incorporate public sector prcurement and a unified public sector equality duty across all equality strands (albeit a streamlined 'duty' - I am sure this will attract some comment and indeed oppostion).

There still remains a few details to be resolved like statutory recognition for equality reps in the workplace and representative action.

On the whole I think it has the potential to be a really good, landmark bill. There will be huge opposition to it, not least from the ranks fo the Tories who are already lining up to oppose it.

It has the potential to do that very rare thing - actually send out a powerful message to society over the next generation that we value equality and diversity.

Link here to Harriet Harman in Parliament (including early opposition from Tory backbenchers as well as general cross party support from other parties).

Excerpt from an exchange with John Bercow:

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): Although her statement meets with denunciations that are as furious as they are predictable from Members of the Taliban tendency, may I tell the Minister that her statement is right by those who have long suffered discrimination, and right in the interests of the country as a whole? Will she confirm that the equality Bill will contain robust measures to tackle homophobic bullying and to deal equally robustly with the gender pay gap among part-time workers in the public sector, and that the legislation will be on the statute book by the summer of 2009?

Ms Harman: I think that I can confirm all those points to the hon. Gentleman, and I thank him for his question. He has proved that not all Conservative Members are still stuck in the stone age. Given his comments, I would say—although I would have to reflect on the matter with my colleagues—that he ought to be regarded as an honorary member of the sisterhood.

During exchanges the Govt also gave assurances that the Govt would be supporting the new proposed horizontal EU Directive .

Statement of support from Stonewall here.

Article in Pink News explaining the importance of the public duty including sexual orientation.

Links to the document outlining the plans can be found on the Government Equalities Office website.

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