Tuesday, June 24, 2008

For discriminating tastes

Take 35 Acts, 52 statutory instruments, 32 codes of practice and 16 EC directives — 116 pieces in all covering 4,000 pages — put them together, and what have you got? Britain's anti-discrimination legislation.
If laid end to end, the Equality and Human Rights Commission points out, that would be the length of ten football pitches or height of 243 double-decker buses. It would take about two-and-a-half days and two nights to read all the documents. … There are three different definitions of direct discrimination and four of indirect discrimination.
For the British citizen who doesn't want to fall afoul of the law but is feeling a bit pushed for time, help is at hand.

This week Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, will unveil ministers’ plans for a single Equality Bill, bringing together all the legislation on discrimination of the past 35 years — pay, race, disability — and also age and gender orientation. It is not just a tidying-up Bill. It is hoped that it will create a culture where discrimination on grounds of age, along with disability, religion or sexual orientation, are all on a par with race or sex discrimination.
I can't wait to find out if it will still be legal to get married in the United Kingdom. After all, that is the most discriminatory act of all. In choosing one person for a spouse, you are rejecting the entire universe of members of either sex, not to mention species. Can't get more discriminatory than that! And what excuse can you offer when you are brought before the scowling, bewigged figure looming above you at the bench?

"You are charged with an offence under the Combined Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, which reads, in its entirety, 'On no account will anyone discriminate against any other person, group, or entity on any basis whatever.' How do you plead?"
A spokesman for the commission said: “This is not just about ‘fixing’ minorities. This is about releasing new talent and opening up the job market in previously untapped areas.

“In two years,” she added, “just 20 per cent of the workforce will be made up of white, able-bodied men in full-time work. We must unlock the diverse talent that will be our future workforce. Modern legislation has a valuable role to play in setting the standard, making safe the principles of fairness and decent behaviour for employer to employee.” A new Act, the commission hopes, will move from prohibition (“you must not”) to permission (“you may”) and to positive encouragement (“you should”).

If you don't understand what is meant by "positive encouragement" … you should.


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