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Equality North East

Equality Bill exemption concerns to be debated in parliament

The House of Lords this month debates the Equality Bill, a major piece of legislation which aims to improve and simplify laws on discrimination and equal treatment.

Although the Bill contains many measures that will be broadly welcomed by those working for fair treatment, the Accord Coalition - which works for inclusive, community schooling - has highlighted what it says are "very serious concerns" about the exemptions the Bill contains for faith schools.

Foremost among these, points out the Coalition , is that it allows fully or mainly state-funded faith schools to discriminate far more in their terms of employment than private businesses or charities with a religious ethos.

Baroness Turner of Camden has tabled two amendments with the aim of addressing this situation, which are receiving the backing of equalities campaigners.

By removing the exemptions it will be possible to make sure that any selection of teachers on grounds of religion or belief has to be justified in the context of the particular role. This would mean give teachers in faith schools the same protections against religious discrimination as other employees in organisations with a religious character, says Accord - whose founding members include the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the British Humanist Association (BHA).

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January 12, 2010

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