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Strengthening Equality - Sarah, The Bringer of Tea
12th October, 2010
10:48 pm


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Strengthening Equality
It's well known amongst the trangender community that the 2010 Equalities Act gives us a pretty raw deal, explicitly exempting us from protections that others can take for granted. In two areas in particular, employment and service provision, the act states that a job opening can require that a successful applicant is not transgender, and for provision of single sex services, or separate services for the sexes, provision can be denied to transgender people. In both cases the refusal must be "proportionate", and towards achieving a "reasonable aim", but these are cold comfort. The way the act treats transgender people is, in my view, discriminatory and something called an Equality Act should not be doing that.

Which is why I am pleased to announce that yesterday (Monday) at a meeting of Cambridge City Council's Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee, I successfully persuaded the councillors present to move an amendment to the Council's equality policy. In the area of employment practices, it has added:
  • We will not exclude transgender people from positions which require a gender-appropriate candidate

In the area of delivering services it adds:
  • transgender people will not be excluded from gender-appropriate single sex/sex segregated facilities operated by the council

In other words, although the Equality Act allows discrimination in these areas in certain circumstances, Cambridge City Council (somewhat famous for appointing a transgender mayor a few years ago) has stated that it will waive its rights to take advantage of those parts of the act when employing people, or providing single sex/sex segregated services. In other words, it exceeds the act's minimum requirements in this area.

It is my wish that other councils, and other service providers and employers will see this as an example of best practice and incorporate something similar into their own diversity policies.

To this end, Cambridge Liberal Democrats have put out a press release. Here it is:

Cambridge City Councillor, Sarah Brown, has scored a significant victory for the city’s transgender group and given the council a leading edge in the battle for equality.
She called on the council to exceed the requirements of the Equality Act by making sure that workers applying for gender appropriate positions with the council and people using single sex facilities provided by the council were not discriminated against.
The 2010 Act allows discrimination against transgender people in these two areas.
A LGBT activitist, Cllr Brown raised the issue at the council’s Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee last night (Monday, October 11) and was successful in changing the council’s Equalities Policy.
She told members she was not challenging the terms of the Act but simply asking to exceed its minimum requirements as an example of best practice.
She said: “I wanted Cambridge City Council to maintain its reputation as being in the vanguard of LGBT best practice in exceeding the requirements of this Act in this area.
“It has been generally agreed throughout the transgender community that these sections of the act were unjust. The city council should be aiming to do better than the minimum standard that the Act allows.
“I am delighted that the committee gave me its backing. It is crucial that transgender workers are not treated differently from other workers and not discriminated against in any way.
“This should prove very reassuring to the transgender community and reinforce the council's reputation as leading best practice in this area.”

Actually feeling quite proud of myself for that!

Also posted at http://auntysarah.dreamwidth.org/247308.html - you can comment here or there.

(22 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:12th October, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
And so you should be. Well done, and thank you.
Date:12th October, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
That sounds excellent!
[User Picture]
Date:12th October, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
That's brilliant. :)
[User Picture]
Date:12th October, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
Well Done :)
[User Picture]
Date:12th October, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
Good move.
I approve.
Date:12th October, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
I see you've run out of bubble gum again.
[User Picture]
Date:12th October, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
Stunning! Now how do you persuade other councils to adopt that and more importantly, can you use it as public example of best practice and forcibly shame the government into doing the right things and removing these exemptions?

On a slightly related basis, I'm curious though - not knowing too much about the Act.... Did the religious fundies have anything to do with those stupid provisions, as it would appear that they're outside the church's area of responsibility - or is it just that the churches want to make us complete non-people?
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 05:33 am (UTC)
Their fingerprints are on it for sure, but so, I think, are those of the radfems.
[User Picture]
Date:12th October, 2010 11:50 pm (UTC)
Good work hon!
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
Congrats to you Sarah!!!!!
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)
I swear to that you couldn't get more awesome if you tried. The only way possible would be if you suddenly became PM, and did awesome things there.
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 04:49 am (UTC)

Going further, what do you think the chances are on being able to pass a clause stating that the council would not give business, work-in-kind, or funding to orgs who used those parts of the Act?
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
That would be consideably more involved to get passed. Changing the council's own policies was relatively straightforward - it was probably never going to discriminate against trans people anyway, but I think it's still useful to *say* so. Going further like this would affect every contract, every department, and have considerable financial implications.

It would be a tough sell for q lowly backbencher such as myself. That's not to say I don't have other tricks up my sleeve. Watch this space.
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 06:14 am (UTC)
Brilliant - and well done!
Date:13th October, 2010 07:45 am (UTC)

It's a partial answer and well done you, but the situation should not exist in the first place and teh politicalz need to continue to be chased good and hard by all of us.

Fwiw I've been trying to get answers out of all and sundry whom I know have ever had anything to do with this sort of legislative process (and for obvious reasons, I know a few) and have come up against a wall of silence, which is deeply, deeply depressing. Doesn't help that most of my political contacts either stood down or lost their seats at the election :o(
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 08:07 am (UTC)
Well done you!
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 08:33 am (UTC)
Excellently done!
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 09:21 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
Cool :)
[User Picture]
Date:13th October, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)

I am moved

You should feel very, very proud.

I want to say more, but I am just moved by how you have made something really good happen.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:22nd October, 2010 04:51 am (UTC)
I've said it before elsewhere, but go you!
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