Gender law reform
Action is required to address the significant gaps in protection against sex discrimination and harassment; harmonise, simplify and clarify the law; and strengthen the Commission’s enforcement powers, as well as the available remedies.
The Equality Commission has identified a number of significant gaps and weaknesses in sex equality law that urgently need addressed. In Northern Ireland men and women have less protection against sex discrimination and harassment than in other parts of the UK. In particular, the introduction of the Equality Act 2010 in Great Britain in October 2010 strengthened protection against sex discrimination across a range of areas, including areas highlighted in a number of our recommendations.
More recently, the gap in legal protections between Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been criticised by the CEDAW Committee, which expressed concern that women in Northern Ireland did not have the same remit of equality protections as compared to their counterparts in other parts of the UK.
Pursuant to its duty under the sex equality legislation to keep the sex equality legislation under review and to make recommendations for change, the Commission has identified a number of significant gaps and weaknesses in sex equality law that urgently need addressed. Some key recommended changes include, for example, prohibiting unlawful sex discrimination or harassment by:
- private clubs/ associations, including golf clubs and political parties
- public bodies when carrying out their public functions
- schools as regards their treatment of trans pupils