History was made yesterday as the States finally approved long-awaited anti-discrimination laws.
The proposal instructs the States to draft anti-discrimination legislation, which will be enacted in various phases between now and 2026. It includes amendments which have expedited the process compared to the original proposals, and changes to the way birth certificates are written.
The first phase of legislation is to be enacted in 2022, and will include protection on the grounds of disability, carer status, race, sexuality and faith.
Legislation on the grounds of sex and gender will be implemented in 2024, along with consideration of 'intersectional discrimination' and ‘equal pay for work of equal value.’ Discrimination in education and action plans to increase accessibility are scheduled in 2026 and 2027 respectively.
I can never thank all the people who have made history today enough. Our members, fellow campaigners, politicians, civil servants, our team, our family’s & friends .... those that we remember as we celebrate. X https://t.co/Idur26MaaP— Karen Blanchford (@blanchfordkgsy) July 17, 2020
Concerns were raised about the efficiency with which the legislation can be enacted. Consultation will be required at every stage, and the current timeline means that three different assemblies of the States will be involved in the creation and implementation of legislation.
But several members of the States felt that it was important to make a meaningful commitment to discrimination legislation. President of Policy and Resources Gavin St Pier felt that the timeframe was reasonable, but was wary of making overreaching promises.
“I think the timetable that the ESS have set out in their policy letter and are committing to is a reasonable one,” said Deputy St Pier. “But it has to be understood that this is being done in the context of many other competing issues.”
"There are reasons why things get blown off-course."
Pictured: President of the Committee for Employment and Social Security Michelle Le Clerc, who brought forward the proposal for a Discrimination Ordinance on behalf of ESS.
States’ members largely believed that the costs and resources required to develop the laws would be worthwhile, but some emphasised that legislation alone would not bring about the intended cultural change.
“We must not fool ourselves into thinking that when something becomes illegal, it goes away,” said Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq. “It’s up to all of us as citizens to not walk by when we see (discrimination).”
In her reply to the debate before voting, Deputy Michelle Le Clerc reaffirmed that consultation would be sought as much as possible in the drafting of the legislation, and asked that States’ members understand that the ordinance will require a true commitment.
“If you want this to happen, you need to commit resources to make sure that this happens,” said Deputy Le Clerc.
“Let’s show that ‘Guernsey Together’ means that we value everyone.”
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