Sunday, 23 January 2011

It's Equality Stupid

There I was, typing away, writing a piece about not throwing mud, being reasonable and - truly shocking - defending the Daily Mail. Meanwhile, they were busy publishing another piece of hateful ignorant journalism. I tried, I really did. In a piece headed 'Equality Madness', the Mail on Sunday attacks equality and the fact the Government has - dun dun dun - been obeying the law in terms of the equality duties imposed upon it. It is essentially a non story. Yet, it also plays into a public psyche that still doesn't understand why these provisions exist and why these measures are a good thing. The story also cropped up on the BBC Andrew Marr show this morning and among a panel consisting of Clare Short, Peter Hitchens and Amanda Platell, nobody defended the move. Unsurprising from Hitchens and Platell who used the story as an example of political correctness gone mad, but Short's failure to explain was a major disappointment. Here are examples the Mail highlights (reproduced in full - not my language):

* Officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport carrying out a so-called ‘equality impact assessment’ to ensure minority groups are able to take a full part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations next summer.

* The Department of Energy and Climate Change issuing a report last month assessing whether a range of groups, including people in civil partnerships, had been unfairly treated when it suspended its £300 million scheme to help people insulate their homes.

* Government officials undertaking a study into India’s traditional caste system and its implications for discrimination in the UK.

* The promotion of the first leadership course specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual National Health Service managers.

* The Department for Work and Pensions publishing a report into whether proposed changes to its scheme to help disabled people find jobs would have implications on a range of issues from religion to gender reassignment.

* Kent Police issuing fresh equality guidance earlier this month, to comply with the Act, saying that transsexual staff are protected as soon as they start to dress, behave or live ‘in the gender they identify with’.

You can read the full Mail story here.

This isn't a debate between right and left, it's a debate between right and wrong. Ensuring that all citizens have equal access to services is the right thing to do. It's not loony left, it's the mark of a decent society. That educated and thoughtful journalists continue to fail to understand sexuality, gender, disability, and race is truly terrifying. The only thing more scary, is the failure of other members of the press to stand up, explain and defend these legal measures.

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