Comprehensive legislation against discrimination is continuing its passage through the Branches of Tynwald following agreement by the new Council of Ministers that it should go ahead.
The Equality Bill, which was passed by the Legislative Council prior to September’s general election, received its formal first reading in the House of Keys this week. It is due for second reading, when the principles of the Bill are debated, at the sitting of the House next Tuesday (29 November 2016).
The Bill prohibits discrimination, in the provision of goods and services as well as in employment, on the grounds of specified characteristics including age, disability, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.
Subject to House of Keys approval, the legislation will be phased in over a period of two years following the granting of Royal Assent.
The Bill builds upon existing discrimination legislation. It complements and would eventually supersede the Disability Discrimination Act.
The Bill is based on the United Kingdom’s Equality Act 2010 but with some Isle of Man adaptations, principally in relation to the enforcement structure. It was subject to extended and extensive public consultation in 2014.
The member taking the Equality Bill through the House of Keys is the Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas MHK. He commented:
‘In providing protection against discrimination, which is a form of exclusion, the Bill is very much in line with the strategic objective of this administration to promote an inclusive and caring society. But, and importantly, the Bill’s timetable acknowledges both the need for equality legislation and that time is needed for familiarisation and preparation.'
‘Helpful simple-to-use guidance has been provided in preparation for bringing the Disability Discrimination Act into force in the coming couple of years and the same can be expected for the Equality Bill.’