Making Equality Work

 

How Equal Are We Really?

For an overview of the legal situation nowadays, have a look at our special web page on the current state of equality law. There's been a lot of real progress from 2003 onwards, though we are worried that religious organisations, and people, have been given a lot of loopholes to allow them to continue to discriminate unfairly. We all need to keep an eye on this: if you come across any examples of religious discrimination against LGBT people, please let us know.

One of our key functions at Intercom is to work with other organisations---local government, the criminal justice system, employers, the health service and others---to help them mainstream equality effectively through their organisation. We have a separate page for our mainstreaming equality work.

As we said, there's a lot of good news. But none of it means anything unless it actually changes what is happening, and makes things better in people's daily lives.

 

Workplace protection: how real is it for many of us?

It is very important that every employer takes steps to make absolutely sure their workplace is not discriminatory against those LGB and Trans employees who choose not to come Out. Many employers in the peninsula are not doing this. They need to act.

Trans people have had workplace protection since 1999, and LGB people since 2003, but many people still have major problems with phobic working environments. The law may be on our side, but it is very difficult to decide to take your employer to an employment tribunal when this will Out you at work. (The tribunal provides anonymity from the media, quite rightly, but your employer will know who is taking action against them, and it is too much to expect that other members of staff won't find out.)

Some employees need to stick to the job they've got, especially those settled in a rural area, and those who need to be close to family members they care for: these employees can't easily take action against a bigoted employer or phobic working environment because they need to protect their privacy in their local community.

Only a very small proportion of LGBT people in the rural peninsula are at all widely Out, and in view of what we now know about the phobic crime figures that is not surprising. That means it is all the more necessary for employers to get their workplaces right of their own accord. We can help!  

 

The Human Rights Act

We regard the Human Rights Act 1998 as very good news, not just for us but for our partners in local government, the police, the health service, and so on. It is only binding on public authorities, but we believe that it is immensely worthwhile for the voluntary and community sectors to adopt Human Rights principles as a secure basis for all our operations.

Have a look at our information pages on Human Rights.

Intercom's own Human Rights Policy is on our Policies and Other Key Documents page.

Partnerships For Equality

Intercom works hard to make equality law come real in people's lives ("mainstreaming equality"). We work in partnership with local authorities, the police, and (where we can) the health service to ensure that the kind of discrimination and exclusion that many of us are so used to, and which have become standard operating practices in some areas of life, are challenged and eradicated.

Looking across the peninsula we would like to pay special tribute to Devon County Council, which has taken real and serious steps towards equality over the past four years, in partnership with the members of their Equality Reference Group (Intercom, the Devon Racial Equality Council, Living Options Devon, AGILE (Action Group In Later Life), and Fair Play South West).

The Devon Strategic Partnership is also developing a truly serious approach to mainstreaming equality and recognising the breadth of diversity in the County. Like the County Council, the DSP has an external reference group, of which Intercom is a member (the Equality Strategy and Scrutiny Group).

We are also finding increasingly positive news when we have dealings with Torbay Council, Dorset County Council, Cornwall County Council, and some (not all!) District Councils in Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset.

Devon and Cornwall Police are also in the top rank for effort and commitment. For more information have a look at our special page on Devon and Cornwall Police.

Another key partner is the Crown Prosecution Service, both nationally and locally in Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, and Avon and Somerset. Starting in 2001, the CPS has worked hard to build partnerships with LGBT community groups and people, aiming to deter phobic crime and see better more successful prosecutions of such crimes. Have a look at our main page on the Criminal Justice System.

If you want to know more about how we have worked with these organisations to mainstream equality through service-delivery, and to develop new performance indicators related to actual community needs, please contact us, or ring these organisations and ask to speak to their Corporate Equality Officer.

We have also worked really successfully with (e.g.) social housing landlords who are committed to combating prejudice and exclusion, such as Sanctuary Housing and Coastline Housing in Kerrier.

There are big general exceptions to all this good news, as far as Intercom is concerned: the NHS (particularly mental health care), residential care homes, and---above all---schools and youth services.

Health and the NHS

There have been good advances in some parts of the NHS, especially around employment issues; but service-delivery issues in mental and primary care have hardly started to advance beyond the bad standards of the 1950s. Have a look at our special page on healthcare and the NHS.

Schools and colleges

As for schools... we are increasingly worried about the environment of schools across the peninsula. With the new Regulations on Goods and Services now having come into force, we fear that all too many court actions for breaches of the new regulations over the next few years will involve local schools, unless individual head teachers and local boards of governors take action, swiftly, to turn their schools round.

Schools in the peninsula: in brief.

As far as LGB and Trans young people are concerned, the vast majority of schools in the peninsula are failing schools, and in need of special measures.This is also true of youth services, including Connexions.

For more information about young LGBT people's needs, phobic bullying in schools, and Intercom's resources for schools, see our JAAHB Project pages. For more information about our partnership work with LGBT youth groups, have a look at our Youth Lynx web page.

Intercom's Equality Tick

Intercom has introduced a basic accreditation system so that local providers of goods and services can show that they are committed to providing equal access for LGb people and Trans people. For more ifnormation, and for our lists of Equality Tick Accredited Organisations, go to our Equality Tick web-pages.

How can I get involved?

Please do get involved! We don't have enough staff or volunteers to do all the work we're asked to do, let alone everything that we know is needed. Contact us and find out more about what we do. We can provide training for anyone who has the appropriate skills and would like to work with their local services.

Help make equality real for local people!

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