‘ALL MEN are equal in the eyes of the law’. It’s a very simple premise and one which is readily accepted and understood by all. Except that we are not. We are all aware of cases where money can, does and has managed to ‘buy’ justice. Where clever lawyers find an amazingly crafted argument as to why their client (who is paying a lot of money for this service) should not be found guilty of a crime, which for the rest of us mere mortals would result in pecuniary judgement. We are all aware that this can and does happen for the super rich and that it puts the rest of us at a disadvantage.
However, there is a recent piece of legislation which has driven a horse and cart through the idea that you need a large amount of money to establish that you are not to be treated like the rest.
In fact, it’s a piece of Legislation which promotes inequality through legally defined special and protected characteristics which then elevate those with them to a higher standing in the eyes of the law.
The 2010 Equality Act, whilst no doubt a noble undertaking has allowed inequality to flourish and has allowed the concept that all men are not actually equal, provided that certain conditions are met.
The main exemption under this legislation it that it makes it unlawful for anyone to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their religion or belief.
Furthermore, the legislation defines a new form of discrimination, namely indirect discrimination, and defines this as putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage, which is why people of faith who have certain practices which are at odds with common practice and culture of the UK are allowed to continue with those practices, even if they are outlawed here and illegal for everyone else.
It is why segregation of the sexes is still allowed in religious places of worship. A practice outlawed in any institution of this country through the sacrifice of such people as Emiline Pankhurst and the Suffragettes who fought for women’s rights and equality. However these rights now no longer apply if the discrimination is being done under the pretext of it being a religious norm.
Public bodies the length and breadth of the country are now fearful of facing a legal challenge by minority groups because of this legislation now affording them and their practices a special exempted status.
A perfect example of this was in Rochdale, where the Chief Executive Steve Rumbelow was challenged as to why an end of Eid celebration in a municipal park was allowed to go ahead despite it advertising segregated facilities. He stated in response,
“That it is the council’s position that were we to not have allowed this to take place on the basis of segregated facilities it would have been viewed as indirect discrimination, as we would not be allowing the congregation to practice their faith in line with the principles of their religion.”
So there we have it. The 2010 Equality Act now allows some men to be more equal than others, providing that it is done because of religious or cultural norms despite these norms being the polar opposite of civil rights and liberties fought for by people of this country over centuries.
This well-meaning piece of legislation is so badly written and thought through that it now allows separate cultures, practices and traditions to exist which are against the pre-existing ones of this land. Irrelevant if those cultures and practices are offensive and at odds with the norms of our society.
This cannot be acceptable in a modern secular society, where wars have been fought against inequality.
However until this iniquitous piece of legislation is amended then under the eyes of the law of this land it is acceptable and it is perfectly legal, given the right circumstances for discrimination to be allowed in this country.
All men are equal under the eyes of the law, it’s just that some are now more equal than others.