Govt must decide on gay job laws

The review of anti-discrimination legislation by the Better Regulation Task Force (BRTF) lacks an ethical framework. The Government might argue that it is leaving it to the courts to decide whether discrimination on grounds of sexuality is lawful under the Human Rights Act. But why should political leaders expect more of the UK judiciary than they do of judges in Europe?

Only last year, 13 European Court of Justice (ECJ) judges agreed with the principle: "European Community law does not regard stable relationships between two persons of the same sex as equivalent to marriages or stable relationships between two persons of opposite sex."

In equal pay law the total remuneration package must be looked at when assessing pay. The ECJ had already decided that travel concessions were pay in another case. But Lisa Grant was not equal because she is a lesbian.

In the ivory tower the ECJ resides in, lesbians and gay men are deemed to be second class citizens. In essence the judgment means it is okay for lesbians and gays to be paid less than heterosexuals for the same work.

How long can the Government justify discrimination against lesbians and gay men? If there is no protection against discrimination on grounds of sexuality, employers will continue to sack people without fear of litigation. No risk. No financial losses. No adverse government action through the use of contract compliance. Just permission granted by Her Majesty's Government to discriminate.

How many Cabinet members asked their constituents the question: Are you willing to pay more tax to ensure that lesbians and gay men continue to be discriminated against?

The BRTF can be contacted by phoning 0171 270 6601. Comments must be received by the end of July.

Deborah King, Hillingdon Law Centre