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Equality and Human Rights in the UK and Germany Professor Sandra Fredman Oxford University.

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Presentation on theme: "Equality and Human Rights in the UK and Germany Professor Sandra Fredman Oxford University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Equality and Human Rights in the UK and Germany Professor Sandra Fredman Oxford University

2 A Human Rights Culture? Aims of HRA 1998 ‘To bring about a new culture of respect for human rights in the UK. Human rights are not just about the law and taking cases to court. They are relevant to many of the decisions people make and the situations people experience on a daily basis. The Government intended the Human Rights Act 1998 to place human rights at the heart of the way public services are delivered.

3 What happened? ‘Three years on, the impact of the Act is in danger of stalling and the initial flurry of activity its introduction has waned’ Audit Commission 2003 ‘The thought of giving prisoners the right to vote makes me physically sick’ David Cameron UK PM

4 It gets worse.. Home Secretary Theresa May (2011): "We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act... about the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because, and I am not making this up, he had a pet cat.” The Bolivian man eventually won his case on appeal because the Home Office had ignored its own immigration rules on unmarried couples

5 Equality v Human Rights? Public bodies continue to be subject to a host of new legislation such as the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Employment Directives for age, religion and sexual orientation. However, it is often the case that the latter pieces of legislation are seen as more important and warrant an appropriate response Few links are made between equalities and human rights legislation by public bodies (Audit Commission 2003)

6 (More of) an equality culture? David Cameron wants churches in England and Wales to be allowed to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies "I don't want gay people to be excluded from a great institution" Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "delighted" that the "principle of wearing religious symbols at work has been upheld", adding that people "shouldn't suffer discrimination due to religious beliefs". Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and the Equalities Minister Maria Miller both welcomed the ruling

7 Trajectories: Equality v Human Rights Anti-discrimination law Labour Law (education and goods, facilities, services) Equal Pay Act 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976; Disability Discrimination Act 1995 EU law: age, sexual orientation, religion/belief Employment tribunals Human Rights No written constitution; no bill of rights ‘Common law’ of human rights; International obligations – weak interpretive function HRA 1998: Incorporation ECHR rather than ‘home grown’ Ordinary statute – not immune from repeal

8 Equality under the HRA No general ‘constitutional’ right to equality – Protocol 12 not ratified Article 14: Wider scope: beyond employment to ‘ambit of convention rights’ Social security law (Humphreys), prisoners’ rights (Clift), immigration and asylum law (AL (Serbia); M)

9 Equality under HRA Wider grounds: ‘other status’ as personal characteristic Cross fertilisation: Meaning of indirect discrimination Crossed lines? Differing definitions

10 Way forward A human rights culture?

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