Public consultation on comprehensive equality legislation for the Isle of Man will start on Monday (August 11), Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK announced today.
The Equality 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. There are a range of exceptions, however.
The Bill, which would replace the Disability Discrimination Act 2006 amongst other legislation, also requires organisations to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of disabled people.
In his foreword to the consultation document, the Chief Minister describes the Equality Bill as ‘one of the most important pieces of social legislation to be progressed in the Isle of Man in recent times.’
He continues: ‘The Bill is a reflection of the priority given by this Government to the protection of the vulnerable. It embodies the values of fairness and tolerance that are the foundation stones of any decent, civilised society.
‘I believe that these values are shared by the overwhelming majority of people in our Island, but sadly we are not immune to incidents of discrimination. The proposed legislation should act as a deterrent against such behaviour and provide a means of redress for its victims.
‘Equality, however, is not about giving preference to certain sections of society or minority groups. It seeks to ensure fair and equal treatment for all, in a way that allows everyone to play their part in the social and economic life of the community.
‘Externally, the passage of a comprehensive equality law would send out a strong message confirming that the Isle of Man is a modern, inclusive nation which complies with international standards of social justice. It would help to dispel the negative perceptions that have damaged the Island’s reputation in the past.’
The Equality Bill builds upon and supersedes existing legislation which offers some protection against discrimination, mainly in the field of employment. The Bill is largely based on the United Kingdom’s Equality Act 2010 but with some Isle of Man adaptations, principally in relation to the enforcement structure.
The UK legislation provides a comprehensive equality framework that has been tested and adjusted, that comes with a large body of guidance and case-law, and which should be familiar to businesses or individuals with experience of operating in both jurisdictions.
Due to the lengthy and detailed nature of the Bill, the Council of Ministers has agreed to an extended period of consultation lasting three months. The consultation document will be available from Monday August 11 on the consultation section of the Government websitehttp://www.gov.im/about-the-government/government/government-consultations/
The Chief Minister concludes: ‘Given the scope and significance of the Bill, I would encourage the fullest possible engagement with the consultation, to help us make sure that the final form of this legislation is fair, effective and right for the Isle of Man.’