Says Ben Summerskill: "That is a big
public education exercise. We've already produced and distributed hundreds of thousands
of booklets and are about to produce a lot more - including translations into
several languages used by minority communities and LGB workers coming here from across Europe."
Stonewall is, however, adamant that these recent employment laws are not in fact
the best place to legally enshrine currently absent LGB protections on Goods and
Services - whereby guest houses could no longer refuse gay guests nor public services,
like hospitals, treat LGBs as second class citizens. They rather think such protections can
most readily be built into a Single Equalities Act (see below).
Education For All Campaign
January will see Stonewall launch their "Education for All" campaign - in partnership
with FFLAG (Friends & Families of Lesbians & Gays) and LGBT Youth, spearheading a
coalition of over 50 organisations including other LGB groups, children charities,
local authorities, trade unions and government at all levels - to challenge homophobia
and homophobic bullying in schools. Materials will be distributed to schools and a special
website will highlight relevant best practice in education. The campaign is not directly
linked to the Schools Out!-fronted LGBT History Month in February, although Stonewall
supports this and can foresee potentially fruitful crossovers.
Explains Wardle: "Clause 28 may have gone but changing attitudes is longer-term. This
carrot-and-stick campaign will highlight the new legislation as well as the positive
benefits of culture change within school communities. But changing cultures and attitudes
doesn't happen overnight - it's a huge task."
Single Equality Commission
Summerskill has also been selected to sit on an eight-strong steering group to
oversee the formation of a Single Equality Commission by 2006, which might itself
help develop - and then monitor and implement - a Single Equalities Act that
would hopefully raise all LGB-related legislation to the same level as that for race and sex.
"It might not sound like it," says Summerskill, "but this is a hugely important
opportunity in terms of building the sort of infrastructure that will really
impact upon LGB lives over the coming decades. In an ideal world - yes - you
probably would construct the legal framework of a Single Equalities Act first and
then go to such a Commission to make it happen. But, at least we can now grasp a real
and present opportunity to form a Commission within a matter of months, and then
use it to help develop law."
He continues: "For me, one of the most important parts of building such a Commission
is the opportunity to forge bonds with others involved - people like Mohammed
Aziz from the Muslim Council of Britain who represents faith communities and is
now completely onside about LGB issues. Moreover, we need a Commission more than
most since - unlike race and disability - there's currently no statutory body
looking out for LGBs. The Commission, once formed, should also enable the government
to make more noise, generally, about LGB issues - including raising awareness of the
new employment laws."
Partnerships & Pensions
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