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Homophobic Bullying

Volume 449: debated on Monday 24 July 2006

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what plans the Government have to tackle homophobic bullying in (a) schools and (b) the community. (88193)

The Government plan to introduce regulations later this year under part 3 of the Equality Act 2006 to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities, services, education and public functions. These measures will empower individuals to challenge unacceptable prejudice in their everyday lives and will reinforce and support the work already being done in many communities by police forces and other bodies to confront and tackle homophobic bullying.

The regulations will be promoted to raise awareness of people's new rights and responsibilities under the regulations and will be accompanied by detailed guidance for service providers. The new Commission for Equality and Human Rights will play an important role in promoting and supporting the regulations when it opens its doors in October 2007.

We take the issue of homophobic bullying in schools very seriously and the Government gave an undertaking in the White Paper, “Higher Standards, Better Education for All”, published last year, to issue guidance on bullying motivated by prejudice, including homophobia, providing school staff with valuable support in an area they often find challenging. The Department for Education and Skills is currently developing a programme to tackle homophobic bullying and has accepted a tender from Stonewall for the provision of guidance on homophobic bullying. The Department expects to issue that guidance early in 2007, and to follow this with a series of dissemination workshops.