Single Equality Act – Framework for Unfairness?

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2007 National LGBT Conference
19 September 2007

Conference notes the recent Framework for Fairness consultation on the Single Equality Act. Conference believes that if we are to achieve equality at work we need a single, coherent and comprehensive Single Equality Act that strengthens existing discrimination legislation and gives support for trade unions to address inequality through collective bargaining. Conference notes that we have long campaigned for the need for a strong public sector single equality duty across all grounds of equality including sexual orientation and for the duty to be extended to the private and voluntary sectors.

Conference welcomes UNISON’s response to the consultation which highlights many of the weaknesses of the Green Paper.

Disabled Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) members’ caucus and National LGBT Conference particularly welcome the inclusion in the response of:

1.A single definition of disability discrimination not focusing on impairment;

2.Recognition of disability discrimination via perception and association

3.Extension of indirect discrimination on the grounds of disability;

4.That capacities should not be deleted as this could promote a more medical model of disability;

5.The transposition of the good elements in existing duties to other strands of equality;

6.The need for a private sector duty;

7.The retention of the requirement for publication of equality schemes and to carry out equality impact assessments;

8.Increased protection for carers;

9.Legal protection against discrimination on grounds of genetic predisposition;

10.A specific duty on public authorities to use procurement to improve compliance, to address discrimination and disadvantage;

11.The ability of unions to bring representative actions;

12.Recognition of “multiple discrimination”;

13.Harmonised approach to goods, facilities and services, on all grounds;

14.Provision for statutory equality representatives in the workplace.

We strongly welcome UNISON’s response that school pupils and education in schools should not be excluded from protection against discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment and that protection should be extended to cover gender identity.

Conference therefore instructs the National LGBT Committee working with all structures of the union to continue the campaign for the strongest Single Equality Act provisions as possible.