Success! - The Equality Bill 2009/10 passes through the Report Stage with the Public Sector Duty for Religion and Belief Remaining Intact
The Report Stage of the Equality Bill 2009/10 in the House of Lords started and concluded on 2 March 2009/10. There were fears that the Public Sector Duty for Religion and Belief would be deleted or diluted at this stage of the Bill's progress through Parliament. However, Lord Lester who had tabled the amendment to delete clause 148 (1) b with regards to religion and belief at the Committee Stage, did not put this amendment forward again at the Report Stage. All the amendments tabled were processed in one sitting.
This is excellent news and it seems unlikely now that this amendment can be resurrected again.
The proposed amendment on shariah courts was withdrawn. The House of Lords voted to allow the use of religious premises and religious language in civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex partnerships, subject to the consent of the religious premises.
The Bill will now progress to the Third Reading in the House of Lords. However, the date for this has not yet been set. At this stage amendments can still be made but they cannot be substantive. The Bill will then proceed to the House of Commons and if agreement is reached it will be made law after Royal Assent.
In order to ensure that the provisions of the Bill, when it becomes an Act, are effective in ensuring equality for and addressing discrimination against Muslims, the guidance currently being consulted upon by the Commission for Equality and Human Rights must be robust. This requires an informed response to the consultation from the Muslim voluntary sector and Muslim workers in the public sector. Otherwise, the legislation will be useless.