Although not yet law, the Equality Bill is making waves at Westminster, where it received its second reading in the House of Lords on 15 June 2005. The Bill, which is likely to become an Act of Parliament in the not too distant future, looks set to herald a sea change in the way that issues of equality are dealt with in the UK.
Specifically, the Bill creates a single Commission for Equality and Human Rights (the "CEHR"). The CEHR would have responsibility for promoting equality across the UK in the fields of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief, and age, as well as human rights more generally. It would replace the existing Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality (the "CRE"), and the Disability Rights Commission. It is anticipated that the CEHR will be established as soon as October 2007, with the CRE's responsibilities being transferred in April 2009.
A separate Human Rights Commission, currently the subject of consultation in Scotland, would be in charge of promoting human rights in Scotland as discussed below.