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Equalities Minister wants millions to disclose sexuality

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Lib Dem Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone wants teachers, nurses and policemen among others to have to disclose their sexuality.

Ms Featherstone said that all public sector organisations should consider sending “diversity monitoring forms” to staff to prove that they are treating all sections of society fairly.

From April 2011, public bodies will be subject to the Equality Act – driven through by Harriet Harman in the last week of the Labour Government but taken up by the Coalition Government – which will force them to consider the impact of everything they do in light of equality considerations.

Under the new Equality Duty, public sector bodies are required to “eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation” on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.

Ms Featherstone’s suggestions have been put forward in a guide to public bodies advising them on how to comply with the Act. However, critics fear the move will lead to massive bureaucracy and expense just as jobs are under threat and budgets are slashed. Critics have also questioned how intrusive such questioning is.

Controversially, the guide suggests that complying with the new Equality Duty “may involve treating some people better than others, as far as this is allowed by discrimination law”.

In June 2009, Ms Featherstone said that public sector employees who face a conflict between their job and their conscience should get another career. Writing on her blog, she made reference to amendments tabled by John Mason, former Scottish MP for Glasgow East, who said that “the world was a big enough place to allow people to abide by their religious beliefs and conscience and employers could work around that”.

“I totally disagree”, she said. “On the execution of public duty, it is important that we make it clear here and now that carrying out public services cannot be a matter of conscience in the way that the Honourable Gentleman might wish.”

Sources

Daily Telegraph

Daily Mail

Related sources

Christian Concern: Public backs protection of Christian conscience at work.

Christian Concern: Equality Act 2010 comes into force.

Christian Concern: Homosexual lobby calls for new Government to stop MPs from voting according to personal conscience.

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