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Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

Volume 691: debated on Monday 16 April 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the remarks by Baroness O'Cathain on 21 March (Official Report col. 1299), whether, under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, homosexual groups will be permitted to discriminate against heterosexuals; and, if so, whether they intend to remedy this. [HL2965]

The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 will prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services, education, the disposal and management of premises and the exercise of public functions. This provides protection for everyone—heterosexual, lesbian, gay and bisexual—on grounds of their sexual orientation, on a par with that already provided for disability, race and gender, and alongside that shortly to be provided for religion or belief.

The regulations protect people from being treated less favourably because of their sexual orientation, but provide for some exceptions from the requirement for equal treatment. For example, religious organisations that fulfil certain criteria may restrict some of their activities on grounds of sexual orientation; services to meet special needs for education, training or welfare of people of a particular sexual orientation may be provided; and private clubs will be able to restrict the benefits of membership to people of a particular sexual orientation where this is the main object of the club.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, following the implementation of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, it will be an offence for schools, religious bodies, doctors or other individuals to state publicly that certain sexual activities, practised mainly by homosexual males, are dangerous to health and statistically likely to shorten life. [HL2966]

The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 will prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services, education, the disposal and management of premises, and the exercise of public functions.

The regulations protect people from being treated less favourably because of their sexual orientation in the areas covered. The regulations will not impact on the ability of professionals to impart factual information, where this is based on evidence and is part of service provision. Nor should they affect the work of professionals—for example, teachers or doctors—acting in accordance with existing statutory guidelines and professional codes of practice.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, it will be acceptable for an adoption agency to give preference to a couple of both sexes over a same-sex couple when considering the interests of the child. [HL2973]

The decision on whether to place a child for adoption with particular prospective adopters is taken by the adoption panel of the local authority that is looking after the child. The paramount consideration in any decision on whether to place a child for adoption with particular prospective adopters is the welfare of the child throughout his or her life, taking account of the child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.