Equality Bill due for Keys second reading

Chris Thomas MHK

Chris Thomas MHK

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Comprehensive legislation against discrimination will continue its passage through the branches of Tynwald this week following agreement by the Council of Ministers.

The Equality Bill, which was passed by the Legislative Council prior to September’s general election, received its formal first reading in the House of Keys last week. It is due for second reading, when the principles of the Bill are debated, at the sitting of the House tomorrow (Tuesday).

The Bill prohibits discrimination, in the provision of goods and services as well as in employment, on the grounds of specified characteristics including age, disability, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.

Subject to Keys approval, the legislation will be phased in over a period of two years following the granting of Royal Assent.

The Bill builds upon existing discrimination legislation. It complements and would eventually supersede the Disability Discrimination Act.

The Bill is based on the UK’s Equality Act 2010 but with some adaptations, principally in relation to the enforcement structure. It was subject to consultation in 2014. The member taking the Equality Bill through the Keys is the Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas MHK (pictured).

He said: ‘In providing protection against discrimination, the Bill is in line with the strategic objective of this administration to promote an inclusive and caring society. But, and importantly, the Bill’s timetable acknowledges both the need for equality legislation and that time is needed for familiarisation and preparation.

He added: ‘Helpful guidance has been provided in preparation for bringing the Disability Discrimination Act into force in the coming couple of years and the same can be expected for the Equality Bill.’

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