The Dean of Guernsey and Liberate unite in their call for discrimination legistlation
The Dean of Guernsey, the Very Reverend Tim Barker, and Liberate, the island’s LGBTQ+ charity, have united in calls for the island’s politicians to pass long overdue legislation that would protect both religious belief and sexual orientation against discrimination.
They have released a joint statement backing ‘Amendment 2’ as proposed by Deputy Parkinson and Deputy Tooley which would see both grounds brought into the first phase of the legislation. They also voiced their support for any subsequent amendments that would see the phases consolidated with the protection across all grounds for discrimination speeded up and rejected calls for Guernsey to ‘copy and paste’ Jersey’s discrimination legislation as that would see religious belief left completely unprotected.
The Very Reverend Tim Barker, the Dean of Guernsey and Liberate CEO Ellie Jones agreed that:
“Guernsey is a wonderful place to live, and most face little discrimination, however some of us are treated differently and denied access to certain goods, services and even employment purely because of who we are or what we believe in.
We all have our own unconscious biases and prejudices and sometimes these spills over into how we treat people and can affect the extent to which we are inclusive of everybody. Legislation leads to education in a community, and eventually that leads to a better understanding of the challenges that different groups of people face which in turn means we have a more compassionate and tolerant society. Our differences are what make us so special and we should encourage everyone to embrace these differences and work together to make Guernsey the fairest place for everyone to live. If we are to continue the wonderful spirit of ‘Guernsey Together’ we need to make sure that means ‘Guernsey Together for all’ not just for those who reflect our views and our life experiences. We are not more entitled to access goods, services or employment because we are able bodied, have no faith or are straight. We should all have the same equitable access.
We need to make sure that everyone can engage fully in island life and for some that means making adjustments both in the way that they perceive another group and in how they treat or accommodate the needs of another group. As wonderful as it would be to think that we would all do this naturally, some people will only do this when there is legislation in place to say they must (or more importantly ‘they must not’). We have seen during lock down how easy it is to be more inclusive, to embrace change and to protect our most vulnerable of islanders. Let’s continue in this spirit and make sure we say no to discrimination in Guernsey!”
The current proposed phases of the legislation would see both religious belief and sexual orientation left out of phase 1, with sexual orientation being left until phase 3 where it would be the only ground for discrimination left with no protection at all for up to two years. Both grounds are uncontentious to the majority of the Guernsey public as the consultation period on the legislation showed little to no objection to introducing them. There would be a negligible cost involved as there are no specific accommodations that would need to be made and most organisations already have policies and procedures in place stopping discrimination on these grounds.
The question from the Dean of Guernsey and Liberate appears to be “why would you not back Amendment 2 and protect Religious Belief and Sexual Orientation now?”.
If Amendment 2 is passed it would see the introduction of the legislation cut to two phases over four year rather than three phases over six years, with Age and Sex discrimination (including Trans Status) being protected in a second phase of the legislation. These grounds are considered more complicated as they include work on pension and retirement ages and equal pay for equal work.
The discrimination legislation is due to be debated in the States this week and campaigners urge all to join them on the steps of the Royal Court to support the introduction of the legislation with #NoMoreDelays.