Government scraps dual discrimination protection

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The government is scrapping a ‘dual discrimination’ protection in the Equality Bill.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the change in yesterday’s budget but HIV campaigners urged the government to change its mind.

Currently, people may only bring separate discrimination claims relating to one ‘protected characteristic’ such as their age, disability, gender identity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

The proposed amendment would have meant that those being discriminated against because they are, for example, both gay and black, would be able to ring a single claim for combined race and sex discrimination.

Lawyers claimed it would cost British businesses too much and lead to many more claims for compensation. It has been scrapped as part of plans to cut red tape for small businesses.

But the National AIDS Trust said recent discrimination cases involving older female TV presenters showed that the provision was needed

Chief executive Deborah Jack claimed that gay and black HIV-positive people also need the protection.

She said: “We condemn the government’s refusal to implement protection against dual discrimination – this is a backward step in the struggle for the rights of people with HIV and indeed many others who experience dual discrimination.

“We seem to be back in the bad old days where human rights were thought somehow to harm the economy. The government should realise that ending all forms of discrimination in the workplace is not anti-business but provides us with the best possible workforce. We urge the government to change its mind and take a stand for fairness.”

The provision was backed by gay rights charity Stonewall when it was announced in 2009 by the last Labour government.

The organisation said lesbians could face “particular issues” because of their gender and sexual orientation.

No one from Stonewall was available to comment today.

Yesterday’s Treasury budget report said: “The presumption will be that all regulations identified as burdensome would be removed unless good reasons are given for them to stay.”

Mr Osborne said that the scrapping of some regulations was “all part of our ambition to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business”.