It's good to talk about discrimination

IT’S good to talk. Sometimes that needs to be done in public, sometimes in private.

Whichever route is chosen when the leadership of the Guernsey Policy and Economic Group and that of the Committee for Employment & Social Security do get together – if they ever do – we should be able to say that we should be able to move forward with more clarity and cooperation on the development of anti-discrimination legislation for the island.

There is definitely a place for tit-for-tat politics, and certainly for tit-for-tat journalism. But the discourse between GPEG, the think tank with influential leadership which somehow has a knack for winding people up, campaigners in favour of anti-discrimination laws, and the States committee, is getting nobody anywhere.

Press statements passing by in a blur of alleged misinformation, claim and counter-claim, are no longer moving the debate forward.

Lord Digby Jones said at a press conference on Tuesday that he wanted to meet ESS president Peter Roffey. Deputy Roffey was quick to advise this newspaper that he and his officers would ‘discuss this important law with any interested party'. It had done so with the main employer and business groups last year before the States debate.

Jon Moulton from GPEG and Guernsey Disability Alliance representative Karen Blanchford went head-to-head on BBC radio yesterday. The discussion was civilised, and then, we understand, continued into reception and the car park and ended positively.

It appears that both sides might be closer on this than they might imagine. Misunderstandings can be resolved around the table.

Concerns have been raised about proportionality. The GDA’s own excellent discrimination legislation resource says that although the principles are complex, that doesn’t have to equal complex law.

A proportionate response from the legal draftsmen would represent the minimum required to reasonably prevent discrimination, it says.

A proportionate response from all sides in this debate shouldn't involve intolerant responses on social media. But conversation, and potentially compromise, are very possible.

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