The obligation of the Equality Duty applies to long list of public sector bodies. Yet it does not apply to the trade unions operating in the public sector despite their massive state funding.
The Government have attempted to make the process less burdensome and prescriptive – for instance in terms of the length of Equality Impact Assessments. Yet at the same time the Government still funds the Equality and Human Rights Commission which has a vested interest in making the process as expensive as possible.
The Equality Duty covers: age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. The duty to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination also covers marriage and civil partnerships.
The EHRC guidance says:
Are private bodies covered by the public sector Equality Duty?
A private (or a voluntary) body is subject to the general duty in respect of any public functions which it has. The duty only applies to those functions, not to any private functions the organisation carries
out. For example, if a security firm has a contract with a public body to transport prisoners, this function would be covered by the general duty, but any security work it undertakes for a supermarket would not be covered.
When a trade union calls a strike among Council workers it has a pretty clear impact on equalities. Many services are specifically for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and disabled.
While most Council registrars worked normally in some places (for example in Scotland, Brighton and Hove and South Tyneside ) marriages and civil partnerships were cancelled. How does that measure up to the Equality Duty on sexual orientation? Those undertaking civil partnerships are likely to have been disproportionately affected as often weddings take place in church.
What is a more effective way for a council to defend gay rights? Handing over thousands of pounds of Council Taxpayers money to the left wing lobby group Stonewall? Or doing everything possible to resist disruption from strike action – including allowing civil partnerships to proceed as planned?