Our local MP Michael Foster was appointed Government Minister for Equalities in June 2009, and is responsible for helping to steer the Equality Bill through Parliament.
According to his website the Bill, published in April, sets out "new laws which will help narrow the gap between rich and poor; require business to report on gender pay; outlaw age discrimination; and significantly strengthen Britain’s anti-discrimination legislation."
The BHA maintains that the Bill should be amended to tackle ingrained discrimination against non-religious people in our equality laws. However the Conservative Baroness Warsi, has tabled an amendment to the Bill which would remove the phrase ‘or philosophical’ in the definition of belief, which currently reads: 'belief' means 'any religious or philosophical belief'. This is opposed by the Conservative Humanist group.
The BHA states: "There are now amendments that seek to privilege religion over philosophical beliefs such as Humanism in law, to grant even wider exceptions to permit religious organisations to discriminate in their employment on a number of grounds, including sex and sexual orientation, and to permit people providing public services to refuse to provide a service should that conflict with their personal beliefs."
There was a letter in the Hastings Observer last Friday from a Liam Atkins which maintains "This bill is discriminatory to all religious groups ... and erodes relgious liberty completely ..." but does not give explicit examples of what liberties he means. I hope that the MP will respond in this weeks paper.
This is our 100th post to this blog, since it was started in February last year, so we have maintained a steady flow of ideas, about two a week.