Creating a fairer Britain
23 August 2012
The Equality and Human Rights Commission will be holding a series of open dialogues in the autumn on religion or belief and the application of the UK's equality and human rights laws.
Leading figures from religious, secularist, humanist and other belief communities will be invited to share their views. The discussions will also involve employment and education leaders.
An independent partner will run the seminars which are part of the Commission’s programme of work on the meaning and application of the laws protecting people who have a religion or belief, which includes those who are not religious.
This work will build on research published by the Commission today. The research examined religion or belief in the workplace and public services. It was carried out for the Commission by London Metropolitan University.
The research found tensions between some religious and secular views on equality and human rights law in these settings. It highlights that most people want ground rules to mediate public debate and want to avoid unnecessary court cases on this issue.
Mark Hammond, chief executive officer, Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“This is an important area of work for the Commission. The research is a useful evidence-base on religion or belief in the workplace and in service delivery. We want this initiative to help create a better understanding of how these challenges could be handled more effectively and whether employers, schools and colleges or others need further advice or guidance to help them.”
The Commission will announce shortly details of how to tender for the religion or belief seminar series. It will deliver the seminars with the involvement of the Government Equalities Office which is part of the Home Office.
For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818.
For general enquiries please contact the Commission’s national helpline: England 0845 604 6610, Scotland 0845 604 5510 or Wales 0845 604 8810.
Notes to editors
Research Report 84: Religion or belief, equality and human rights in England and Wales by Alice Donald, Karen Bennett and Philip Leach of the Human Rights and Social Justice Research Institute, London Metropolitan University is available on the Commission’s website: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/publications/our-research/research-reports/research-reports-81/
The Equality Act 2010 protects everyone in the UK from unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation. People are protected from discrimination in many settings, such as when shopping, eating out or playing sport as well as at work. The law protects people who do not have a religious belief, such as atheists or humanists; as well as people who have a religious belief. People were protected from religious discrimination in the workplace from 2003 and in the provision of goods and services from 2006.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.