Defend the Equality Act
Unaccountable lobbyists are trying to undermine the Equality Act behind the scenes. This isn’t how a democracy is supposed to work. Sign up NOW to support the independent equality watchdog in standing up to the lobbyists. It is time to #DefendTheEqualityAct.
A leaked letter from Liz Truss, Minister of State for Women and Equalities, shows that the government is putting pressure on the EHRC to stop it doing its job of producing clear guidance, based on the law.
Clear guidance on single-sex services is urgently needed to protect everyone’s rights. Everyday single-sex spaces are overwhelmingly popular: almost no-one wants to use the toilet, or change or shower, with members of the opposite sex present. Clarity about the law would benefit everyone: men and women; transgender people; and service providers.
Stonewall told the Women and Equalities Committee that it doesn’t want changes to the statutory guidance. These Codes of Practice were written over ten years ago with input from GIRES, Press for Change and Stonewall. These organisations and their allies have been bullying the EHRC to prevent it doing its job of updating the codes. And now it seems they have persuaded Liz Truss to lean on the EHRC as well.
In the shocking letter, the Secretary of State puts pressure on Baroness Falkner, Chair of the independent Equality and Human Rights Commission, to ensure that any guidance the EHRC produces is “aligned with the Code”.
That’s not what the law says.
The EHRC’s mandate is to produce guidance in line with the Equality Act 2010. There have been significant developments in case law since the Codes of Practice were written.
If the Codes of Practice are out of date, or unclear, they should be updated.
The mechanism that the law provides is for the EHRC to publish new guidance and propose amendments to the statutory Codes of Practice.
It is for our elected Parliament to debate and agree on the statutory guidance. Stonewall does not get to write our laws in private.
The Government should not be undermining the equality watchdog in doing its job, and then leaking communications to placate Stonewall.
This contravenes the United Nations Paris Principles, which say that National Human Rights Institutions must be independent of government and able to “freely consider any questions falling within its competence, whether they are submitted by the Government or taken up by it without referral to a higher authority”.
Join us to defend the EHRC and the Equality Act
Last week we collected over 7,000 responses to our survey on single-sex services. Over the next few days we will be producing template letters to help you write to your MP, and launching an official parliamentary petition to demand that the government withdraw this instruction.