Current Affairs

Equality and Human Rights Commission to collate sexuality status from across government databases

PinkNews Staff Writer December 6, 2009
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The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is to collate sexuality data given to hospitals and other surveys in order to gain a greater understanding of the inequity that lesbian, gay bisexual or trangendered (LGBT) people may be suffering.

The Daily Mail reported the story on Saturday using the headline “Equality snoopers to compile files on your sexuality.” It is understood that all of the information will be stored on a single “lifestyle database.”

The details emerged following a Freedom of Information Request by a member of the public using the website WhatDoTheyKnow? The FOI was made after the Commission began a tendering process for a new database.

In the response, the EHRC said the database will contain “equality strands including age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief, transgender status, ethnicity plus social class. The Commission has matched these indicators to currently available data sources.” These sources include A&E records, the British Crime Survey, the British Election Study, the Census, Childcare and Early Years Parents’ Survey and the Citizenship Survey.

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, told the Daily Mail: ‘This intrusive database is being built without even the smallest consideration for privacy.

“When people go to hospital, they don’t think that information about their illness is going to be shared with the EHRC.

“‘What possible right does the EHRC have to build this database, and then share what they’ve gathered with other people on their website?’

But there may not be any real grounds for privacy fears as personal details including names and addresses will be stripped from the records.

The EHRC told the Daily Mail that the data will “show what needs to be done to make Britain a fairer place to live.”

Last month the EHRC asked MPs to include a question in the 2011 census on sexual orientation. The government has previously ruled out the question, saying it would be too controversial.

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