The experts employed by the States of Guernsey rejected the UK legislation in the early stages of their review.
In short, the UK’s Equality Act is a large piece of legislation which would be resisted locally on many grounds, such as complexity and ineffectiveness.
The GDA is particularly concerned that parts of the Act relating to disability have not been as effective as hoped.
The GDA is also concerned that the UK law uses a definition of disability which restricts qualification for benefit of the Law to those with “long-term” disabilities.
Additionally, the definition also requires the person to demonstrate “inability” before the matter of discrimination can be considered. The UK definition does not comply with the principles of the Convention which reject medical models and advises that:
“…Persons victimized by disability-based discrimination seeking legal redress should not be burdened by proving that they are “disabled enough” in order to benefit from the protection of the law. Anti-discrimination law that is disability-inclusive seeks to outlaw and prevent a discriminatory act rather than target a defined protected group. In that regard, a broad impairment-related definition of disability is in line with the Convention;”
The UK Act is based on protected characteristics, rather than grounds of discrimination. The GDA believes this does not align easily with the individual approach to disability required to comply with the Convention and which may even reinforce stereotyping.
As Lady Elizabeth Hastings, Australia’s first Disability Discrimination Commissioner said in her review of the first ten years of the Disability Discrimination Act:
“A large proportion of the pages in the extensive regulatory and guidance materials issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act is taken up with issues of the identification of who is, and is not, a person with a disability. This is not only a misdirection of effort and attention away from the real objective of eliminating discrimination; it suggests that we are talking about a dangerous or a protected species, and could be expected to encourage a reaction from employers and others that the safest thing to do with people with a disability is avoid having to deal with them.”