Thursday, April 30, 2009

Britain's New Equality Bill Published and Introduced Into Commons

Last Friday, Britain's long-awaited Equality Bill was introduced into the House of Commons, and the bill was published on Monday. (Shoosmiths). Plans for the bill were first announced in the Queen's speech to Parliament last December. (See prior posting). It is designed to place a new equality duty on public bodies, and to consolidate nine existing anti-discrimination laws into one Equality Bill. The Government Equalities Office has posted a web page with links to the full text of the bill and extensive additional information on the proposal. The government's Equality Impact Assessment says in part:
Including religion or belief in the new Equality Duty will require public authorities to consider how to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations for people of different religions or beliefs. This could result in health and social care providers analysing different levels of use of their services between different communities and taking positive steps to ensure access to services and better outcomes. This might, for example, particularly help Muslim women of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin who have significantly poorer maternal and child health outcomes and are significantly less likely to access ante-natal services, partly because they are concerned they will be unable to receive services from women.