Snapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks
Prime Minister calls for more women in top positions
On a recent trip to Mumbai, David Cameron stated that Britain needs to do more to ensure that there are more women as MPs, and in top positions in British business and the judiciary. The unlikely source for this statement comes, not from his cabinet, but from his wife Samantha Cameron, who told him that they are ‘missing out on a lot more that 50% of the talent’ by not having women in top positions. He also admitted that there were not enough women in the Cabinet.
The lack of women in the judiciary and in the board rooms of big businesses is a story that is often not too far from the headlines, as the search for equality of the sexes is a big issue. However, it is not just the lack of women in these categories that is an issue, as there is also a lack of BME candidates. David Cameron is calling for there to be active encouragement for women to join in and apply for such positions. However, it is not simply a case that women should sign up and they will get the job, though an increase of female candidates would probably help. There needs to be changes on the inside of the companies, political parties, and the judiciary in order for the female candidates to be recognised as equal to the male candidates so that they are not discriminated against. The Lib Dems have also called for job shares in Parliament to increase the number of women elected.
Race discrimination in job applications
Virgin Atlantic has recently faced accusations of racism after turning down a man named Max Kpakio for a job, only to offer him an interview when he reapplied as Craig Owen. This is not the first time that claims have been made that candidates are rejected on the basis of their names, and therefore are whitewashing their applications.
Ethnicity-based prejudices persist in the workplace at many levels. It is probably one of the most sensitive areas of discrimination, with a long history of conflict. Many may question whether a firm, when presented with the choice of two equally meritorious prospective employees, one being black, one being white, would be inclined to pick the white candidate. I have no doubt that this kind of racism does persist in the workplace; however, I would question at what stage in the application process this normally happens.
I find it shocking to think that someone’s name alone – when it is obviously belonging to a black or ethnic minority candidate – on an application process, would actuate this kind of discrimination. While discrimination is very much alive in the workplace, I believe this kind of discrimination is more often conceived at interview level, when the interviewers are faced with a candidate who bears little or no resemblance to themselves, given that the interviewers are likely to favour what they know. While there might be isolated cases of direct and conscious discrimination based on race, I believe ethnicity-based discrimination exists on a more subconscious and pervasive level. That is not to say that this kind of candidate-differentiation is any better than if it did in fact exist at application stage, but rather that if that were the case, then at least the problem would be easier to identify and address.
Turkish children adopted by gay Europeans to be retrieved
The Turkish government conducted an investigation last month wherein it was found that approximately 5,000 children, who had been removed from their homes due to abuse or the parents’ inability to financially support their child, had been adopted to Christian European couples rather than being matched to foster parents matching their faith and culture. Following this, the government launched a campaign to retrieve three such adopted children from gay couples in Belgium – at this point in time the government has announced no plans to attempt to retrieve any children from straight couples.
The government attempted to justify its actions saying by trying to cite human rights violations as well as psychological damage being done to the child. They failed to mention exactly which human rights are being violated and did not specify the type of supposed psychological harm occurring.
The head of the Turkish Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, Ayhan Sefer Ustun, stated the following: “We don’t condemn that culture, but the child has been given to a foreign culture, to a lesbian family. Even if a child is taken from the [biological] family for the right reasons, he or she should be placed with a family closer to his or her culture.” Given the fact that the Turkish government is not attempting to retrieve children from any straight couples, it actually does seem as though it has everything to do with the sexual orientation of the adoptive parents and not the ‘foreign culture’ which the TPHRC is attempting to cite. Mr. Ustun further went on to say that he was afraid that the children’s culture and Islamic background would be lost due to assimilation with Christian European families.
Mr. Ustun further went on to say that “The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in a past ruling said that taking a Christian child from his family and giving him to a family of Jehovah’s witnesses was not an appropriate act.”
However, since these children have been fully legally adopted and been with their adoptive parents for some time now, it would actually be a violation of the child’s human rights to remove them from their current home, as well as a violation of the parent’s Article 8 rights. It also seems like blatant discrimination behalf of the Turkish government to only, as of now, seek to retrieve children from same-sex couples.
Boris Johnson to face legal challenge from Christian groups for refusing to allow ex-gay adverts on London buses.
February 14th saw the launch of One Billion Rising around the world, focusing on the oppression and violence faced by women across the globe.
Anti-gay Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigns amid claims of ‘inappropriate behaviour’.
NICE have announced plans to make IVF treatment available sooner and to older women.