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GPEG hopes amendments to law will "fix relatively ludicrous content"

GPEG hopes amendments to law will

Tuesday 01 February 2022

GPEG hopes amendments to law will "fix relatively ludicrous content"

Tuesday 01 February 2022

Large sections of a draft anti-discrimination law set to be debated by the States this summer have been dismissed as “ludicrous” by one of the founders of a local think tank.

The Guernsey Policy and Economic Group does not want to see the proposed law rejected entirely because it says it is "genuinely in favour of much anti-discrimination activity".

But it hopes deputies who it knows have similar concerns submit amendments to the draft law and succeed in replacing it with "something much more sensible".

However, the Guernsey Disability Alliance, which works with people with disabilities, thinks that remaining concerns about the draft ordinance can be successfully addressed by training people on how to comply with it and furthering understanding of its purpose and effects. 

Carol Le Page, Social Policy Director for the Alliance, hopes the majority of deputies continue to back the draft law as it makes its way through the legislative process to the States' Assembly.

Employment & Social Security Committee

Pictured: The Committee for Employment & Social Security hopes that later this year it will steer the island's first comprehensive anti-discrimination law through the States. 

In July 2020, the States' Assembly directed the Committee for Employment & Social Security to prepare a new and comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance. This direction remained unchanged in 2021 when the Committee took a policy letter to the States seeking clarification on some of the details.   

The Committee recently released a draft of the full law “in the interests of transparency” several months ahead of asking the States to debate and vote on the proposals. 

In July last year, GPEG issued a report which suggested that the cost of conforming with the legislation along the lines favoured by the Committee would not outweigh the benefits. It said the costs to the States alone could be more than £2million in the first year of the law.

One of GPEG's founders, Jon Moulton, yesterday told Express that its position has not changed following the publication of the draft ordinance.

“There’s very little that is new or novel to say about what has been [recently] put forward," said Mr Moulton.

He said discrimination was "a very small problem" and that the Committee's "solution appears to be the proverbial sledgehammer".


Pictured: Jon Moulton and his colleagues at GPEG have consistently argued that the anti-discrimination ordinance being developed by the Committee for Employment & Social Security would be disproportionate and unnecessary. Some deputies are known to share this view and GPEG hopes they will try to amend the draft law when it is debated by the Assembly later this year. 

“I don’t think any of us would particularly object to a sledgehammer being applied to discrimination on grounds of race or sexual preference, but the extent now is you can be disabled because you learn differently than other people. This is an extraordinary concept," said Mr Moulton.

“There’s a whole section about mental conditions that affect social interactions. People interact socially in every possible way anyway, so you end up with a ridiculous situation that has defined everybody as disabled.”

The island currently has very little in the way of anti-discrimination legislation, except for the Sex Discrimination Ordinance of 2005.

If approved, the new legislation would offer protections for people discriminated against on the grounds of disability, race, sexual orientation, religious belief or whether they are a carer.

“We are actually genuinely in favour of much of anti-discrimination activity,” said Mr Moulton. “We certainly don’t want it thrown out.

"However, at the moment, it is going to be very expensive and it’s going to make being an employer less attractive. It may even make being an employee unattractive.

"Tensions in the workforce between people who are getting special treatment for being disabled and the rest of the workforce could be unpleasant.”


Pictured: The States agreed in July 2020 to legislate against discrimination in various forms.

Mr Moulton said GPEG has been in contact with some deputies who share its concerns.

“We are not in daily contact with them, but we are certainly well aware of a number of deputies who have concerns about the entire process and the range of opinion is very broad.”

He said GPEG wants to see the legislation amended when it reaches the States' Assembly.

"First of all, fix the relatively ludicrous content – the definition of disability, for example – and replace it with something much more sensible. There are a lot of things in there that fall under the heading of over the top.

“It tries to cover everything. We’re a small society and the occasional 'once every five years this section might be relevant’ type of stuff should largely be cut out as not effective to have.”


Pictured: GPEG promotes itself as an apolitical organisation which undertakes research into various topics relevant to Guernsey. It has five Directors: Mr Moulton, Lord Digby Jones, Connie Helyar-Wilkinson, Susie Crowder and Peter Neville. 

Carol Le Page, Social Policy Director for the Guernsey Disability Alliance, has applauded the work being driven forward by the Committee to get the anti-discrimination ordinance enacted.

She hopes the concerns raised by GPEG do not derail the legislation or persuade a majority of deputies to amend it and neutralise some of its effect. 

“It’s great that it’s coming,” said Ms Le Page.

“There has been so much work done by the law officers - there should be no surprises. What was in the policy letter should be exactly what’s in the draft, so that’s really the stage we’re at.”

A consortium of charities and groups has been awarded a contract for training people on the new legislation.

“Change is always frightening: the more people train and start to understand what is coming, it’ll hopefully reduce any stress and any concerns,” said Ms Le Page.

You can read the draft ordinance in full ONLINE HERE.

Any feedback on the ordinance should be directed to Equality Guernsey at: equality@gov.gg.

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