Equal Opportunities

Every human being should have equal opportunities and be recognised equally regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, culture, social background, gender, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age or socio-economic status. No one should be discriminated against in reflection of the above equality.

 

Moderator: If you like this idea, you may also like the idea 'What fairness and equality means for education'  https://constitutionuk.com/category/#/post/84306

edited on Apr 7, 2015 by Cecilia Rossler

Fiona Condon Apr 5, 2015

Should age also be included in this list?

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 5, 2015

Of course. I feel silly for not having realized that earlier. Thank you for this. If others notice other important factors that are missing please let me know and I will change it right away. 

Ian Smith Apr 6, 2015

Hi Cecilia, Could you (or perhaps someone else) think of a more modern expression of "class"?  kind regards, ian

 

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 6, 2015

Hi Ian, perhaps socio-economic status is a better word? Or maybe having both is good to prevent misunderstanding?  

Ian Smith Apr 6, 2015

How about "social or economic background or status" replacing both "social background" and "class"?  kind regards, ian

Ian Smith Apr 6, 2015

Cecilia, 

I recommend that we also include "sexual orientation", "lack of religion" and "political beliefs".

kind regards,

ian

Malcolm Ramsay Apr 6, 2015

I'd say the longer you make the list, the more likely it is that anything which is left out will be deemed to have been excluded. Doesn't "Everyone should have equal opportunities and be recognised equally" say it all?

Though I'd prefer 'Every human being ...' because, as it stands, corporations might claim that they're included too.

Ian Smith Apr 6, 2015

I see the merit in Malcolm's reformulation. 

The only thing it loses is specificity and impact since it gives no steer to the readers as to what they should be aware of when considering equality issues.  If we were to go for Michael's reformulation, I would go for:

"All individuals should have equal opportunities and be recognised equally before this constitution and the law''

Ian

Fiona Condon Apr 6, 2015

Should there be some exceptions? For example, would we want people able to draw their pensions when they are16 or claiming childcare allowances for their 30 year old children? Perhaps keeping it general gets round this.

Salka Margrét Sigurðardóttir Apr 6, 2015

I agree with you Ian that 'sexual orientation' should be included, but I think both 'political beliefs' and 'lack of religion' is too narrow. If we would say 'opinions' we can include both of these things while being general. 

Malcom, I think mentioning basic things like are already in the text is valuable to make sure this clause hits the mark. If we think of the things that people are most generally discriminated against because of, we can make that list quite general like it already seems to be. Social background and status for example can include many things. I don't think the problem of exclusiveness is necessarily a problem. 

I like the sentence 'Every human being should have equal opportunities and be recognised equally'. But I would also like that to be followed with a list of examples of features. 

I think what you suggested Ian ("All individuals should have equal opportunities and be recognised equally before this constitution and the law'') is too weak. I understand this clause as not just equal protection before the law, but also equal protection as regard to workplaces, schools etc. Employers should not be allowed to discriminate against people based on arbitrary features they happen to be born with. They should be evaluated because of their merit. Isn't that something we would want emphasised in our Constitution? 

Fiona, I think these exemptions can be dealt with on the lawmaking level. Need is not the same as discrimination. Childcare allowances exist because of need, the child cannot get a salary itself. Pensions are also given because of need, because the elderly are most unable to work at that point. I believe it should be doable to care for people according to their need without discriminating against others. 

Rob G Apr 7, 2015

Apologies for a bit of a "stream of consciousness" brain dump!

I can't help but wonder whether "Equal opportunities" is too vague a term for inclusion in the constitution. Equal opportunities for what?  How does equal opportunities differ from equal treatment? How "active" does such a provision require the state -or, indeed, anybody else - to be?

For instance, most of us might argue (and for full transparency, I would argue) that benefits or state assistance for those with disabilities are entirely appropriate mechanisms to enable them to play a full part in society, but it is patently not equal treatment. It is, though, an attempt to "level up" the terrain so they are able to take advantage of opportunities in the same way as the rest of society. (Interestingly, the German Basic Law says that no-one should be "favoured or disfavoured" because of sex, race, etc.; but "No person shall be disfavoured because of disability".)

The Equality Act 2010 begins with a provision (which I believe was never brought into force) requiring public sector bodies to have "regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage". It then proceeded to prohibit certain conduct on the grounds of the "protected characteristics".

Although I'm generally a positive person, should we look at "reducing inequalities" rather than "promoting equality"? I'm speaking specifically in terms of what should go into the constitution, rather than what the goals of society, or legislation, should be.

And a final thought, would it make a difference if this were a provision in the body of the constitution, or in the preamble...?

Cecilia Rossler Apr 7, 2015

Dear robg8, thanks for your comments. On whether 'equal opportunities' is too vague a term, I think departing from it at this stage would be too big a departure from the original idea people voted on. Secondly, the point of using equal opportunity rather than equal treatment is that people have different needs, so that giving them the same treatment will not necessarily lead to equal outcomes. I think this applies to your 'level up' point as well. In terms of promoting equality vs reducing inequalities, my feeling is that this too would change the original idea quite radically, although I agree that you make an important point.

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Cecilia Rossler Apr 7, 2015

Hi everyone, thanks for your comments, I have modified the idea to include sexual orientation and changed 'class' to 'socio-economic status' and formulated it as one sentence, so it now reads: Every human being should have equal opportunities and be recognised equally regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, culture, social background, gender, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age or socio-economic status. No one should be discriminated against in reflection of the above equality.

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