New anti-discrimination body will 'promote human rights'

The creation of a new Equality Commission, which will not only counter discrimination and challenge inequality, but also provide support for the promotion of human rights, has been announced by the government today.

Under the plans, the work of existing equality commissions will come together to give greater support and more joined-up advice to individuals, businesses and communities to crackdown on discrimination, and promote equality and diversity, ministers said.

The new body, provisionally called the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), will bring together the work of three existing equality commissions - the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission – and take responsibility for new laws outlawing workplace discrimination on age, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary and Minister for Women, said: "We are committed to providing opportunity for all and equality matters to everyone - it is not a minority concern. A successful society must make full use of the talents of all its members.

"But tackling discrimination in the 21st Century requires a joined-up approach that puts equality in the mainstream of concerns.

Lord Falconer, Secretary of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, said that human rights and equality were "two sides of a single coin".

He added: "The CEHR should be able to change the way that public authorities treat individuals and drive up our public service standards.

"It will champion human rights good practice and responsibilities throughout the public sector, reducing the need to go to court over problems. We want to see a human rights culture, not a litigation culture."

A task force will be set up with members reflecting different equality interests to advise on the governance and structure of the new body ahead of a White Paper next spring.


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