March 25, 2011

IconDual discrimination protections scrapped in Budget

The government are removing protections on the grounds of dual discrimination from the Equality Act as part of George Osborne’s “Budget for Growth”. The Treasury claims that it will save UK businesses £350 million by scrapping a number of existing regulations.

Supporters of the Budget argue that the dual discrimination protections will lead to more discrimination claims against businesses and cost too much money to implement. Critics of the move say that groups such as older women and gay, black HIV-positive individuals need the protection offered by dual discrimination law.

Dual discrimination refers to situations in which individuals are treated less favourably because of two legally protected characteristics: for instance, a bisexual woman may simultaneously experience discrimination on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation. Claimants will now only be able to contest discrimination on the grounds of one protected characteristic at a time.

National AIDS Trust chief executive Deborah Jack described the move as “a backward step in the struggle for the rights of people with HIV and indeed many others who experience dual discrimination”.

“We seem to be back in the bad old days where human rights were thought somehow to harm the economy. The government should realise that ending all forms of discrimination in the workplace is not anti-business but provides us with the best possible workforce. We urge the government to change its mind and take a stand for fairness.”

The inclusion of dual discrimination in the Equality Bill was backed by Stonewall in 2009. The LGB charity has yet to comment on the removal of the protections.

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