Current Affairs

Scottish Parliament hosts equality review

Tony Grew February 21, 2007
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The chairman of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) is to speak at a conference on equality in Scotland.

Trevor Philips, who is currently head of the Commission for Racial Equality, will address the gathering of more than 80 different age, disability, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation groups.

LGBT Youth Scotland are to attend the conference this Friday at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

They will have an opportunity to address the chamber about how they view equalities in Scotland.

Mr Philips, who will give the keynote speech, was a controversial choice to head the new rights commission.

The CEHR comes into operation in Autumn 2007 and will provide a single voice on equality and human rights.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay charity Stonewall, and a commissioner of the new body, said in September that Mr Philips will have to reach out to the gay community.

“Trevor will have to prove that he can address the needs of all the communities represented by the CEHR,” he said.

“He has not so far delivered for lesbian and gay people, who were rarely mentioned in the Equalities Review he chaired.

“We trust he will listen to a range of stakeholders as he climbs this steep learning curve.”

The CEHR will be responsible for enforcing the Equality Act, which guarantees freedom from discrimination in the provision of goods and services regardless of sexual orientation.

It will inherit the responsibilities of the existing equality commissions, the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

London mayor Ken Livingstone attacked the concept of the ECHR.

In December 2006 he said plans to put minority groups such as black, people, the gay community and women under one organisation are “rubbish.”

The event in the Scottish Parliament this Friday feeds into 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All.

It will focus on developments in equalities over the past two parliamentary sessions, as well as inviting the delegates to set further targets for the future.

New elections for the parliament will be held in May.

Speaking ahead of the event, Trevor Phillips said:

“The Scottish Parliament Equalities Review will help inform the CEHR’s agenda in a significant way. The CEHR strongly recognises devolution and will operate in an autonomous, but not separate way in Scotland.

“As the national leader in creating a society at ease with all aspects of human diversity, the CEHR will rely on Scotland to be an important contributor to the GB-wide equality and human rights agenda.”

Members of the public wishing to attend the event should contact Visitor Services on 0131 348 5200.

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