Equality quango: vegans protected by Harman’s Bill

Vegans, Rastafarians and atheists will be protected from discrimination under the Equality Bill, equality bureaucrats claim.

Philosophical beliefs such as Humanism will also be covered according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The Equality Bill has been spearheaded through Parliament by Harriet Harman, the Labour Minister for Women and Equality.

The Bill has been criticised for being part of an equality agenda which marginalises Christians.


In a 366-page draft code of practice for employers on dealing with demands from the Equality Bill, the EHRC highlights the Bill’s possible wide-ranging effects.

The Commission says that the Bill protects any religion and those who hold a “belief”, from discrimination.

But it points out, that “belief” could include those with a lack of any belief, as well as philosophical beliefs such as Humanism or Atheism.


The EHRC then gives the example of a vegan who “eschews the exploitation of animals for food, clothing, accessories or any other purpose and does so out of an ethical commitment to animal welfare”.

It adds: “This person is likely to hold a belief which is covered” by the proposed new equality law.

The Government has distanced itself from the draft code saying it does not believe veganism is the same as a religious or philosophical belief.

But a spokesman from the EHRC said: “This is about someone for whom being vegan or vegetarian is central to who they are.

“This is not something ‘thought up by the Commission’.

“Parliament makes the law, the courts interpret it and the Commission offers factual and proportionate guidance to organisations where necessary.

“We are providing guidance on the implications of the Equality Bill.”


A Government Equalities Office spokesman said: “The Equality Bill does not change the existing definition of religion or belief and the Government does not think that views or opinions based on scientific – or indeed on political – theories can be considered to be akin to religious beliefs or philosophical beliefs.

“Nor was it the intention in introducing the legislation that such beliefs should be covered.”

The draft code also gives 3 pages of tips to employers on how they can ask about their workers’ sexuality and whether they are a transsexual.

School skirts

Last week the EHRC was slammed by national newspaper columnist Leo McKinstry for reviving the ‘loony Left’ policies of the 1980s.

His comments follow the Commission’s claim last month that schools which insist on girls wearing skirts may be breaking the law because they are not suitably accommodating children who believe themselves to be members of the opposite sex.

In February, the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Winchester warned that Britain’s equality agenda is marginalising Christians.

Dr John Sentamu expressed concern at attempts to “remove religion from public life”, during a lecture in Newcastle.

And Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt said those who “believe that the churches and faiths are wrong on various matters of sexual ethics, or in having an all male priesthood or requirements concerning marriage and divorce, want to use the law to compel us to act differently”.

He called this “an extraordinarily illiberal stance”.

The Equality Bill includes an “equality duty” which will force public bodies, and those performing a public function, to promote transsexual and homosexual ‘rights’.

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