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Employers in this country are being reminded that it'll soon be illegal to discriminate against gay workers when it comes to hiring, promotion, pay and benefits. And to make sure they comply with the new law, they're being advised to have equal opportunities policies in place well before 2003 when the new EU directive becomes law in this country. Already some companies like IBM are taking the advice of campaign group Stonewall on the best way of making sure they don't infringe new legislation.
There's no current UK law which prevents discrimination against gay employees, but now the government has to put in place a system of "proportionate and persuasive" legal sanctions to discourage discrimination which is likely to include financial compensation and mandatory reinstatement. ©Freefoto.com
The outlawing of discrimination on the grounds of both religion or sexual orientation must be in place by 2003, with provisions covering discrimination on age and disability following three years later.

The legislation which has long been resisted by both governments and many employers is long overdue. Stonewall quote the case of one gay man from Yorkshire who lost his job because anti-gay harassment was ignored by management. 'A group of young men at work took turns to rip up my clocking in card and shouted to one another "Hey there's that poof". I didn't tell anyone and I was physically sick each morning before work. It led to me being sacked for bad timekeeping.'

Stonewall's Angela Mason has already welcomed the new directive, and the organisation say what's good for the gay community is also good for business. Companies who embrace anti-discrimination policies are likely to benefit from a more diverse workforce and customer base. They also protect themselves from costly and damaging legal action such as the dispute between South West Trains and a lesbian employee whose partner was refused travel benefits. Had the new law been on the statute book, SWT would have lost the case. Unfortunately new legislation is not expected until at least the end of 2002.

Photo supplied by Freefoto.com

 

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