Equality exclusions

05 July 2013


From Dr Phillip Rice

Sir, - "The Equality Act 2010 (the Act) affects party politicians, public servants as well as church synods." I have occasion to look for jobs as a political adviser in research. That is to seek employment in a restricted class as offering advice to party politicians.

The job advertisements for Conservative and Labour effectively test, and so exclude, non-Conservative and non-Labour respectively. The adverts each have a slightly differently worded formula for exclusion, one for Conservative and for Labour. This is legal under the Act. So politicians have their own carve-out for good reasons.

As a member of the General Synod, somewhere in the middle of the debate on women in the episcopate, I am struck by the part that the Act is playing. There are about 600 pages of Act and Code of Conduct to consider with simple legislation and related other special cases. It strikes me that the principle of protection for party politicians serves as a model for protection in legislation sought by traditionalists, Evangelical or Catholic, who would want their "reasonable exclusions" to be enshrined in canon law.

Surely this is a material point: what is good for party-political interests can justify in a principled way what is good for this Synod's deliberations on women in the episcopate.

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