An unlikely piece of legislation that may yet prove a useful tool for Father’s Rights campaigners.
By Robert Whiston, April 5th 2007
Passed in 2006 the Equality Act became an operational statute in April 2007.
Approved without much fanfare it applies not only to all central government departments but to all registered charities and all NGOs (though WAFE and Refuge may still be exempt).
Henceforth, they, together with regional and local governments, will have to comply with the new legislation which is aimed at how they conduct business.
Previous sex equality laws have applied to all privately owned companies and all publicly listed companies – and also in the main to local councils etc – but this is thought to plug holes left by earlier legislation. The importance and relevance of which can only be guessed when one considers the 2006 Act applies to such tiny minorities as transsexuals (which even homosexuals see as different entities).
Of interest to Fathers’ Rights groups and Men’s Rights campaigners – for reasons that will become obvious later – is the inclusion of both CAFCASS and the CSA within the scope of the 2006 Act.
To get matters under way and to be seen to be in the vanguard of Whitehall complying with its own legislation, the newly created Ministry of Justice produced a 109 page document entitled “Gender Equality Scheme 2007-2010.”
This was distributed to invited delegates at a meeting on March 28th 2007. The meeting was chaired by the newly promoted and astringent feminist, Vera Baird MP.
On the front page was an invitation to “send your comments to” the DCA together with a dedicated email address.
The Gender Equality Scheme (GES) process and 109 page booklet – short extracts from which are used in this article – was the chosen tool of government to implement the policy resulting from the Equality Act 2006. The GES document provided a map of all the ‘contact points’ where change and compliance had to be observed, i.e. the interface between public and public services.
The Act and Enforcing Compliance
At item 2.1.3, under the sub-heading ‘Employment’ (page 8), the GES document of the Dept Constitutional Affairs (DCA) – formerly the Lord Chancellor’s Dept. but now called Ministry of Justice – states that:
“. . . . the DCA is committed to, among other things, ‘eliminating unlawful discrimination and harassment in its employment practices’. [ meaning its own practices – Edit]
For those of a mischievous disposition there seems to be an air of resignation in the above sub-paragraph that appears to concede that the DCA (the Dept Constitutional Affairs) had previously been acting dubiously or somewhat illegally itself.
Nonetheless, the DCA / Ministry of Justice has given itself the role of Whitehall policeman enforcing compliance among other Whitehall Depts. Presumably after this code has first be enforced at the DCA and among all Whitehall Depts. it will then be extended to regional and local offices ?
It is an accepted fact that the English language has been raped for years by Radical Feminists, not just casually but constantly on a weekly basis. We all know that ‘equality’ no longer mean any such thing, and that equality really means bestowing preferential treatment and or privileged status on a few.
The Equality Act is no exception.
Gays, Lesbians and Trans-gender people are intended to be the main (only ?) beneficiaries of the Equality Act 2007 but, as a by-product, the government also expects all women and ethnic minorities to gain (that ignores only ‘whites’ and heterosexual males).
In a truly fair “equality” statute there should be equivalent, prescribed benefits for heterosexual men and an inclusion in, or extension of, any additional benefits offered to others. But that is not what ‘democracy’ means in 2008.
The actual wording of the Act’s intentions are these:-
An Act to make provision for the establishment of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights; to dissolve the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission; to make provision about discrimination on grounds of religion or belief; to enable provision to be made about discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation; to impose duties relating to sex discrimination on persons performing public functions; to amend the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and for connected purposes.
From the above wording we can be sure that the former fem-centric, and rather tired, Equal Opportunities Commission, which did nothing for men, is completely abolished (had a man been appointed as its CEO, arguably the EOC would have been much more even-handed).
Its replacement, the new Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) gives hope that a new beginning will usher in some rational and less sexist behaviour. The EHRC will also take over the duties of the Disability Rights Commission. The Commission’s first CEO is the plain speaking, down to earth Trevor Phillips (pictured).
He has a record of not shying away from controversy and for that very good reason he is widely respected.
For instance, in 2004, acting in his role of chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality he blocked grants to ethnic minority projects that failed to promote “Britishness” and integration. He sparked a debate when he said ‘’multiculturalism’ wasn’t working and the term should be scrapped.
However, he has a lifelong history of identifying and highlighting discrimination against sub-sets, (i.e. minorities. He may warm to the possibilities that the Equality Act presents to combat institutionalised discrimination, regardless of ethnicity or gender. He may, if the problems are thrown into sharp relief take the opportunity to help heterosexual men, and fathers in particular.
Here comes the detail
The Act’s other ‘intentions’ (see above) are the further barring of discrimination on grounds of race, sex or religion. It “makes provision about discrimination” and imposes duties on corporate bodies not to discrimination on sexual or orientation grounds – particularly when those corporate bodies are performing public functions; subgroups i.e. ethnic or sexual minorities.
This looks, at first instance, as if the only beneficiaries are once again homosexuals, ethnic minorities, lesbians and transsexuals – but that would d be wrong.
Firstly, both equality and human rights are listed without mention of either hinging solely upon race, religion or sexual orientation.
Secondly, a substantial portion of the Act is dedicated to the definitions of ‘groups’ and the role institutions must play in accommodating said groups.
Part 10 of the Act spells out what the new law expects. The new Commission is expected to exercise its powers to bring about (one assumes
pro-actively) an understanding of the importance of good relations between members of different groups, and between members of groups and others; to encourage good practice in relation to one another; and work towards enabling members of groups to participate in society.
Helpfully at Part 10 (2) we learn what “groups” mean; ‘group’ means a group, or class of persons, who share a common attribute in respect of any of the following matters (a) age, (b) disability, (c) gender.
The Incentive to Become a “Group”
For someone with a legal inclination it may be technically possible to argue that Fathers’ Rights groups and Men’s Rights are an age and/or gender related ‘group’ and so could be included within the meaning of the Act.
Additionally, at subsection 2(e) to 2(g) it goes on to include, race, religion or belief, and sexual orientation. The ‘or belief’ may be particularly useful in this context.
Subsection 3 is also supportive of this radical interpretation of the Act in that any reference to a group “includes a smaller group or smaller class within a group, of persons who share a common attribute (in addition to the attribute by reference to which the group is defined) in respect of any of the matters specified in subsection (2) (a) to (g).”
Would it be wrong to suggest that interpreting the new Act from this point onwards only gets better ? For instance, at Section 12 the provision for equality enactments includes references to Community law which one assumes must refer to EU law and EU Directives. These, of course, refer to the Right to Family Life etc.
Fathers’ Rights groups and Men’s Rights groups should be knocking on the door of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission demanding compliance with Part 19. 2(a to c), namely for the monitoring of particular kinds of crime affecting certain groups, e.g. fathers; for measures “designed to prevent or reduce crime within or affecting certain groups”, e.g. false allegations; and to fund for activities (whether social, recreational, sporting, civic, educational or otherwise) designed to involve members of groups, e.g. ‘drop-in’ centres helplines, to assist with problems and generally counsel grieving men
The Equality Act 2006 looks very much like many other equality measures that benefit only race or sexual minorities – but is it time this incestuous situation was challenged – and in a serious way.
Now would be a perfect time – no one has tried it before and no one will be expecting it.
The closest comparison to such a scenario would be Eugen Hockenjos 2001 battle with the Sec of State over the anti male dimension to the JSA benefits – Eugen caught the Dept completely off-guard and won – the government had to abandon JSA in favour of Family Working Tax Credits.
Who will take on the mantle in 2008 and be prepared to push the boundaries of the slack wording and the contradictions with EU Directives that the Act possesses ?
Additional resources on the Gender Equality Scheme (GES) of the Ministry of Justice:
- UK (former) Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) Gender Equality Scheme (GES) 2007-2010
- Ministry of Justice yearly review 2008 of the DCA Gender Equality Scheme [PDF 0.57mb, 84 pages]
- Ministry of Justice Gender Equality Scheme (GES) 2008 – 2011 [PDF 0.44mb, 62 pages]
- Ministry of Justice Gender Equality Scheme (GES) Action Plans 2008 – 2011 [PDF 0.85mb, 136 pages]
- Corporate webpage of the UK Ministry of Justice with all current equality schemes