The Equality and Human Rights Commission has unveiled its first single equality scheme with a committment to prioritise legal cases in new areas of equality such as sexual orientation, in order to build case law.

As a public body the EHRC is legally required to address gender, disability and race.

The new scheme will also cover age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and human rights.

The EHRC has a special position among public authorities as these duties are identical to its own remit and is also responsible for ensuring other public bodies meet the legal requirements of the equality duties.

Gay equality organisation Stonewall has called on all public bodies to be legally required to promote equality of service for gay people.

Nicola Brewer, the EHRC chief executive, said:

“Like all public bodies in Britain, the Commission is subject to legislation to promote disability, gender and race equality, but we are going beyond that to cover our full remit.

“It is about our employment practices, how we provide or buy services, how we work in partnership with others and how we include equality in everything we do.

“I am delighted that we have produced this scheme and look forward to working on our three year scheme to take the Commission forward.”

The scheme will be developed during 2008 and 2009.

All public authorities have a duty to produce an equality scheme.

Some of the main priorities for action in the EHRC scheme include monitoring the effectiveness of their helpline services and ensuring that contractors providing goods, facilities and services to meet the EHRC procurement criteria for all equality areas

The equality scheme will be available on the EHRC website.