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Human rights staff given guide to stop 'politically incorrect' language

Workers at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have been issued with a style guide to stop them using phrases deemed to be politically incorrect.

It is one of a series of Government quangos seeking to ban a number of words which it is believed could cause offence.

Expressions including “right-hand man” and “gentleman's agreement” have been condemned by some other institutions and in certain cases, workers were urged to avoid using vocabulary which could be construed as offensive.

At the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, staff were advised to use the phrase “miserable day” in lieu of “black day.” Employees were also provided with a style guide encouraging them to show “political sensitivity” and avoid vocabulary which could cause offence.

A spokesman said: “Staff have been advised that certain phrases could carry a hierarchical value.

“The general advice is consider sensibly how language might be perceived by people and think about how certain phrases could cause offence.”

Meanwhile terms such as “black sheep of the family,” “black looks” and “black mark” were singled out by the South West Regional Development Agency in England, in accordance with guidelines issued by the TUC, a spokesman said.

At the National Gallery in central London, staff were discouraged from using the terms “right-hand man” and “gentleman's agreement” which could be considered offensive to women.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said the changes would do little to combat real discrimination.

“These silly rules are a waste of time and money, and do no actual good for race relations,” he said.

“It is absurd to ban words and phrases that even the authorities themselves acknowledge have no link to race at all.

“The sad thing is that this political correctness is harming the English language whilst reinforcing an atmosphere of paranoia about perfectly reasonable phrases.”

Belfast Telegraph

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