Equality Laws in England and Wales

Britain has slightly different equality laws in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales but they are all based on the same notions, which is that these are civil not criminal law and that we as citizens can do anything except that which the law does not allow.

Firstly, I shall briefly outline the history of these laws, the first and equality law was the 1965 Race Relations Act, passed after a series of violent attacks on Black men in London up to and including the murder of Kelso Cochran. It covered the Act outlawed discrimination on the "grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins" in public places in Great Britain. At that stage it did not cover housing or in the workplace. But this was partially amended by the 1968 Act.

The Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976 were passed by Harold Wilson's Labour government. In 1975, Britain became a member of the European Community, which became the European Union in 1992 with the agreement of the Maastricht Treaty. In the period following the Trial of the murderers of Stephen Lawrence new and extend law was introduced to extend the duty of race equality to all Public Authorities not just local Councils. Disability was the subject of the only equality law undertaken by a Conservative Administration that of the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act which was later amended to reflect the wishes of disabled people into the 2004 the Gender Recognition Act.

The Equality Act 2006 which extended the protected characteristics to cover religion or belief and sexual orientation. laws were passed, and during the following years of the Labour Administration was consulting and drafting one law that brought together all existing equality legislation into one Act of Parliament, which was to become the Equality Act 2010. It seems clear that a great deal of thought and consideration was put into one piece of legislation which sought (seeks) to provide a high degree of equality across all of the protected characteristics. It was passed just days before the general election which changed the political balance of Parliament. One of the first things that was done by the then Home Secretary was to exclude the first provision of the Act, one that covers Socio-Economic Inequalities (class).

The above 4 paragraphs are my attempt to put into words a brief history of the laws in the UK which cover equality and I do so to provide a context for the change which is, as I write the subject of consultation and one that I do not agree with and for which I and many other women are being attacked for wishing to safeguard the gains that women. This includes the gains that lesbians have made over these years to receive equality. The protection from the proposed legislation would have a deleterious impact upon us. And in protesting we are being subjected to lies and threats the like of which I have not experienced since encountering the British National Party, in the 1980’s and 90’s.

Let me address the issue of fascism - I do not think that the supporters of some parts of the Trans lobby are fascists, but I do invite them to consider whether their refusal to debate or let other women debate policies which will have a damaging impact on us is unwise, at the very least.

What is particularly problematic are the proposals that it is sufficient for a Trans person to say that they are Trans for this to be accepted as happened at the Hampstead Ladies Pond in London a facility which has been enjoyed by women who prefer to bathe away for the sight or proximity of men or humans who retain male genitals. Such women may be Orthodox Jewish or Practising Muslims, as well as for a large number for lesbians.

What is particularly strange about this incident is that the current law on Trans does not give pre-operative men the right to use these designated women-only spaces, and yet neither the Authorities running this facility not the media know what the law currently says. And whilst some Trans women may feel that we should currently reflect their wishes and not what Parliament has agreed on the subject, this does not seem to apply to any other section of society.

If it is hate speech to disagree with a viewpoint that is antithetical to one’s own interests would there be any debate or discussion in these lands? I do not agree with many of the proposals on Trans issues which are harmful to women. I do not like being designates a Cis woman in the same way that I do not like beings called a Non-White woman. There are many things I find problematic about the fight about ‘gender’ because it cheapens debate by merely insulting those with whom you do not agree. I have a number of Trans friends and I will not quote or anticipate their views on these matters. I speak on my own behalf drawing upon my struggles to confront racial and other discrimination and our use of the law.

And over the last 60 years I have learned that it is possible to dialogue and debate with those with whom one does not agree. I said that I would defend myself if attacked, as Maria MacLachlan was in September last year at Speakers Corner, it was Maria who spoke immediately after me at the event for which I am being accused of threatening Trans women. There has, to my knowledge been only one act of violence by trans supporters as differences to the subject of changing the laws on it was by Trans supporters, and yet I am the person being challenged in a private prosecution by someone who in court objected to my wearing the colours of the suffrage Movement whilst claiming to be a woman.

So here I am today having been been disinvited now by three white women who clearly feel that I have hurt or may hurt the feelings of people who grew up as boys and men because I may hurt them, either physically or emotionally. I on the other hand have no feelings - we know that Black people don’t have feelings - that we are violent and we represent a threat to White men and I am very much reminded of the murder of Joy Gardner who was bound by handcuffs and a leather strap and by 13 foot of Elastoplast tape around her face which caused asphyxia from which she died. She was one of nearly 40 Black people who up to 1997 died at the hands of the police and for which there was no prosecution of officers. The lives of White men who say they are Trans are more significant than Black women, lesbian or Straight. OK so the fight for women equality continues we may have the vote but men seem intent on telling us what we may think and say and whether some of them are just playing power games with ‘gender’?.

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