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Rules of conduct

New regulations on equality, religious beliefs and sexual orientation will only lead to court battles in Ireland and England, says Barbara Hewson

1 August 2003

Following consultation, draft Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations (RoB Regs) and draft Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (SO Regs) were laid before Parliament on 8 May 2003. They represent the first phase of implementation of Council Directive 2000/78/EC (Framework Directive), and come into force in December. They have caused controversy. To understand why, one must examine their origins. In 1997, the Treaty of Amsterdam introduced Art 13 EC: “Without prejudice of the other provisions of this Treaty and within the limits of the powers conferred by it upon the Community, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.” This heralded the start of a much broader equality project. However, concerns developed about the potential for c...

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