Channel Islands Humanists’ recommendation that Guernsey’s new Discrimination Ordinance should provide equal protection for the non-religious has been adopted by the Committee for Employment & Social Security. The States of Guernsey will now consider this recommendation later this year. The Discrimination Ordinance is Guernsey’s first comprehensive legislation to prevent discrimination.
In 2020, Channel Islands Humanists told the Committee for Employment and Social Security, who were drafting the proposed legislation, there is no legal basis for people who hold non-religious worldviews, such as humanism, to be excluded from protection, given that it was proposed that religions would garner protection. Channel Islands Humanists proposed that the term ‘religious belief’ in the draft legislation be replaced with ‘religion or belief’. This would bring the legislation in line with the UK’s Equality Act 2010 and the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Guernsey is a party. The Committee agreed with this proposal.
The Committee said it ‘has taken into consideration the strong arguments from equality stakeholders and humanist groups that people should also be protected from discrimination on the basis of non-religious beliefs, provided that they meet certain tests. This will ensure that humanists can enforce their right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their humanist beliefs. The Committee’s view was that just to protect people from discrimination on the ground of religious belief (or lack of religious belief) was too limited.’
Disappointingly, the Ordinance will also create exceptions that will allow religious discrimination to occur in school admissions policies and schools with a designated religious character to narrow their Religious Education curriculum primarily to their own religion.
Channel Islands Humanists committee member Gary Vaudin commented,
‘We are delighted that our proposal has been adopted by the Committee and will be put forward to the States of Guernsey to approve as they consider the new legislation. This is a huge step forward for equality in the Channel Islands. We have worked constructively with officials in Guernsey to bring about this change and hope to continue that relationship as the draft proposals become law.’
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