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Equality Act 2006 (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

Volume 459: debated on Thursday 3 May 2007

18. What recent representations she received on the Equality Act 2006 (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007; and if she will make a statement. (135447)

Since Parliament passed the regulations, we have continued to receive many written representations from a wide variety of individuals and organisations. The regulations came into force on Monday 30 April, extending vital protections against discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation, which are on a par with the protections already provided against discrimination on the grounds of race and sex, as well as new measures that prohibit discrimination on the ground of religion or belief.

I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply. Does she realise that that consultation is perhaps an example of how not to conduct a public consultation, as shown by the amount of correspondence that all hon. Members have received? In a recent Adjournment debate, the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills, the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Dhanda), promised that the position, especially with regard to adoption through the Catholic Children’s Society, would be reopened in Scotland. Will the Minister confirm that, if any such review takes place, the same procedure will be followed in England?

I am sure that the hon. Lady, alongside many hon. Members, has received a huge volume of correspondence. As she knows, strong views are held on each side of the argument. No one can question our commitment to scrutiny, debate and consultation. Indeed, I extended the time for consultation on that complex issue for five months, and I believe that we have ended up with a reasonable balance between ensuring that gays and lesbians in this country are free from discrimination and able to go about their daily lives free from discrimination, and freedom to hold and manifest a religious belief.

The hon. Lady knows that we have discussed the issue that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary raised in Westminster Hall. I understand that he has responded to a parliamentary question from her. She knows that negotiations and discussions with the Scottish Executive are a natural part of the deliberations of Government. Indeed, we take into account the views of all interested parties.