Private businesses and charities should be forced to promote political correctness including ‘gay rights’, says the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
The TUC will debate a motion calling for equality duties – which currently apply to public bodies only – to be extended to cover the private and voluntary sectors.
Equality duties place a legal requirement on organisations to promote equality on certain grounds. Currently, the only areas covered are race, disability and sex equality.
However, as part of the forthcoming Equality Bill, the Government is proposing to extend equality duties to cover sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age, and religion or belief.
There are concerns that the new duties will require public bodies such as schools and the police to actively promote gay rights.
Equalities Minister Harriet Harman has already hinted that state contracts will only be given to private or voluntary organisations which sign up to the Government’s equality agenda.
But the TUC claims that the plans do not go far enough. Sarah Brett, equality policy officer at the TUC, said that if the single equality duty was not applied across the economy there would be “two-tier legislation”, with high standards for the public sector and less stringent rules for other organisations.
However, the Government has indicated that it does not intend to extend equality duties beyond the public sector.
A spokeswoman said: “The general duty will cover private sector or voluntary bodies that are carrying out public functions on behalf of and under contract to public authorities, but only with regard to those functions.”