Belfast Telegraph

Equality law for women in Northern Ireland 'far behind rest of UK'

By Victoria Leonard

The law protecting women from discrimination in Northern Ireland is "significantly behind the rest of the UK", according to a leading gender equality charity.

The review of sex discrimination law was published today by the Fawcett Society, which is being backed by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

The Fawcett Review says that there is "no reason in principle why women in Northern Ireland should enjoy different protection from discrimination depending on which part of the UK they find themselves in".

However, chief executive of the Equality Commission Dr Evelyn Collins CBE raised concerns over "gaps in legislative protection" between here and Britain.

She stated: "Responsibility for the law governing equality between women and men is a devolved matter.

"We welcome this report from the Fawcett Society, which endorses many of our recommendations for reform of the sex discrimination laws here - we have consistently identified the gaps in legislative protection between here and Britain as a cause for real concern and as a matter that needs to be addressed urgently.

"The gaps include, for example, no protection here against sex discrimination by public bodies, when carrying out their public functions, or by private clubs/associations. There is also no protection against 'pay secrecy clauses'."

The review recommended that government ensures Brexit does not result in the dilution of existing equality and human rights laws in the UK

Dr Collins continued: "This echoes the Commission's call for no regression from existing equality laws in Northern Ireland after the UK leaves the EU and for future equality enhancing protections to be implemented here.

"Every year, complaints of sexual discrimination are consistently the second most reported type of discrimination to our advice team. It is clear that equality between men and women is still some way off."

Belfast Telegraph

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