Exemptions for equality in provision of public services
This amends the Equality Act to add an exemption to the rules on providing an equal service (Section 29 of the Equality Act 2010 provides that public service providers should not discriminate, harass or victimise on the basis of protected characteristics) to Schedule 3. The new clause covers marriages according to religious rites and protects services from having to conduct, attend or consent to such marriages. Lord Dear wants to extend that to expressing disagreement with such marriages.
This is Number 14 in the Marshalled List of amendments to be discussed 17th June. For the discussions on the amendments see here.
I believe there are problems with this section of the Bill. By adding further exemptions to protections from discrimination for "expressing disagreement with a relevant marriage because it is a same-sex marriage" extends those problems.
I am also concerned that it refers to "a relevant marriage" rather than "relevant marriages" as this suggests protecting the targeting of individuals, but this could be a relic of the Equality Act framework.
Page 4, line 19, at end insert “or
( ) expresses disagreement with a relevant marriage,”
(6) In Schedule 3 to the Equality Act 2010 (services and public functions: exceptions), after Part 6 insert—
“ Part 6A
Marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales
25A Marriage according to religious rites: no compulsion to solemnize etc
(1)A person does not contravene section 29 only because the person—
(a)does not conduct a relevant marriage,
(b)is not present at, does not carry out, or does not otherwise participate in, a relevant marriage, or
(c)does not consent to a relevant marriage being conducted,or
( ) expresses disagreement with a relevant marriage,
for the reason that the marriage is the marriage of a same sex couple.
(2)Expressions used in this paragraph and in section 2 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 have the same meanings in this paragraph as in that section.”.