Equality Bill: Multiple Discrimination

House of Lords written statement – made at on 27 April 2009.

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Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council (Privy Council Office)

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Government Equalities Office (Maria Eagle), has made the following Statement.

Some people experience discrimination because they have a combination of protected characteristics. For example, black women can face discrimination because of stereotyped attitudes or prejudice, which white women and black men in the same circumstances would not encounter. This type of discrimination is known as multiple discrimination. Currently discrimination claims can only be brought in respect of a single protected characteristic. This means that for some people who experience multiple discrimination it is difficult, complicated and sometimes impossible to get a legal remedy.

In the government response to the consultation Discrimination Law Review: A Framework for Fairness Proposals for a Single Equality Bill for Great Britain, published on 21 July 2008, we committed to exploring whether provisions for multiple discrimination could be included in the Equality Bill.

Following this consultation, we have developed a proposal, enabling claims combining two protected characteristics. We are now seeking views from industry, business and all interested organisations on the impact of our proposals through the publication of our discussion document, Equality Bill: Assessing the Impact of a Multiple Discrimination ProvisionA Discussion Document.

This document outlines our proposals in detail. It will form the basis for discussions seeking broad views, particularly from business and organisations, on the impact of a multiple discrimination provision. In particular, we are asking specific questions on the burdens the provisions may impose, particularly on employers, and the steps we can take to minimise those burdens.

The discussion will take place over the next six weeks. In the light of the discussions, we will decide whether protection from multiple discrimination should be introduced and if so how, taking into account progress on the Equality Bill, which we have published today.

I am placing copies of this document in the Vote Office and the Libraries of the House. Copies will also be available on the Government Equalities Office website, www.equalities.gov.uk.