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Stonewall Cymru was delighted at the House of Lords vote to introduce new protections against discrimination for gay people.
Peers voted by 168 votes to 122 in support of regulations, part of the new Equality Act, which were introduced on 30 April. They will make it unlawful to discriminate against lesbian and gay people in the provision of services ranging from healthcare to hotel rooms.
Matthew Batten, Stonewall Cymru's Policy and Public Affairs Officer said: "We're absolutely delighted that peers have supported equality for lesbian and gay people so decisively. The offensive and well-funded campaign to oppose these much-needed protections reached appalling depths of unpleasantness, as seen in Parliament Square yesterday when small children of six, seven and eight were coerced into waving anti-gay placards. It has been a stark reminder of how much prejudice still exists in Britain and further evidence of the need for these new protections."
"We look forward to the implementation of the regulations. They will make a real difference to the lives of lesbian and gay people in Wales."
The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 make it unlawful to discriminate in the provision of goods, facilities and services on grounds of sexual orientation. Adoption agencies are exempt from the regulations until December 2008. Stonewall first presented ministers with draft amendments effecting these changes in March 2005.
Stonewall Cymru is delighted that the government has decided not to exempt religious adoption agencies from our goods and services protections.
We have been working hard to ensure that these regulations have effect where they are most needed in order to put a stop to homophobic discrimination. We continue to press for robust goods and services protections, without sweeping exemptions that permit religious groups to discriminate against lesbian and gay people.
The leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, had publicly threatened to close Catholic adoption agencies unless the Government agreed to exempt them from the goods and services regulations. This would have allowed them to turn lesbian and gay couples away.
Stonewall argued that, in delivering publicly-funded social services, the welfare of the child must come before religious doctrine.
On 29 January 2007, the Prime Minister announced that there would be no exemptions for religious adoption agencies. Instead, they will be given until Christmas 2008 to adapt their services. We trust that given this transitional period, no agency will need to close.
Liz Morgan, Stonewall Cymru Director, said: ‘We’re absolutely delighted that the Government has decided against an opt-out. The exceptions which Catholic bishops were demanding would have denied some of Britain’s most vulnerable young people a loving home, as well as stigmatising lesbian and gay parents and the many children raised in stable, loving families by them. This is a triumph of tolerance over prejudice.'
On 9 January 2007, in a historic victory for gay equality, the House of Lords voted by 199 votes to 68 to uphold the sexual orientation regulations in Northern Ireland, where they had been introduced on 1 January 2007. This followed a particularly unpleasant campaign against the protections.
Stonewall lobbied extremely hard for these important protections and many individuals and organisations were involved in securing this massive step forward.
The government bowed to pressure in the House of Lords and accepted Stonewall's amendments to the Equality Bill. Consequently, it will become illegal to discriminate against lesbians and gay men in the provision of goods and services - from NHS care through to hotels and restaurants.
The government issued a public consultation paper 'Getting Equal' in March 2006 setting out how it intends the regulations to work. The consultation period closed on 5 June 2006.
Stonewall Cymru's consultation response to the Equality Act can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
This change in the law will wrap around the everyday lives of lesbian and gay people across Britain in a huge range of areas. Some religious organisations are demanding that sweeping exemptions be carved into the new protections. We are urging the government to bring forward robust regulations in order to ensure that the kinds of discrimination which we’ve heard about at Stonewall Cymru – the reason why we lobbied for these new laws in the first place - are covered.
Lesbian and gay people, as customers and service users, should be able to expect fair treatment just like anyone else.
Are you a business or service provider looking for further information on what the goods and services regulations mean for your organisation? If so, click here.
Have you been unfairly treated simply because you are lesbian, gay or bisexual? Do you know anyone who has received second rate service because of their sexuality? Tell us about it so we can challenge discrimination in Wales.
By sharing your experiences you can help us lobby for improved services for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Wales. We will report your experiences anonymously to National Assembly Members, or write letters of complaint or congratulations to the local authorities and public/private service providers you have told us about. We will round up experiences and discuss them on the website so everyone can see what issues face our communities.
You can tell us your experiences by filling out our feedback form.
We often are being asked by the media for a 'real person' to interview to give their stories a wider appeal to their audience. As a result, we need a team of media contacts who we can call on to talk to the media. This may take the form of telephone interviews, live or pre-recorded radio/TV and articles in the press, with or without photographs. Often these can be done anonymously.
Stonewall Cymru will talk to journalists first of all to assess the angle, and then provide information to you before you say 'yes' to taking part. We never give phone numbers direct to journalists but instead give you contact details - so you are in control of the process.
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Tel: 029 2023 7744
Address: Stonewall Cymru, Transport House, 1 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9SB.
If you cannot find the information you need on this website, you can call the Stonewall Cymru offices on 029 20 237744 or 01492 622202 or the Stonewall info line on 08000 50 20 20 (Mon-Fri 9:30am - 5:30pm) and we will try to point you in the right direction.