Equality and Human Rights-Simple? I don’t think so

After spending a year learning about Human Rights and Equality it can seem a straightforward issue that you back 100%. However, sometimes in practice rights and equality rights can seem to clash. It can be complicated task to decide which right or issues wins over another so in today’s session we put some difficult questions to the group. Here are a couple of our case studies and one response from someone on the course. What do you think? Why not leave a comment?

You be the Judge

Sceanario 1:A women took 9 months maternity leave last year. The next tax year her male colleagues were given a raise. She wasn’t given one and she was told that she hadn’t progressed as much as a worker as she had missed ¾ of the year. She said that it was discrimination against her as a woman and against her decision to have children. Agree?

Lois (14): I think that it isn’t fair that she doesn’t get the same amount of pay, even though she could be just as much of a hard-worker as any of the other employers. It was her choice whether to have a baby or not, but i don’t think that she should be penalized for being a woman and having to take the time off. I think that possibly, for a solution, she could have half the pay rise that the other employees do, as she has only done half the work.

Scenario 2:A school finds out that one its teachers is a member of the BNP (an extreme right-wing party that has been branded racist and fascist). They call an emergency meeting with the teacher and discuss his future at the school. They are considering sacking him as racism goes against the values of the school. He says it is within his rights to hold his own political opinions and that it would be discrimination to sack him. He says there are teachers who are religious at the school, even though its non-religious. Why are his views any different? Agree?


Jamil (14): So if a teacher is part of the BNP then I will agree to sack the teacher incase she/he teaches the children differently and have a favouritee  student and then they will have less students in the school than they hoped all because of their teacher.

Scenario 3: The Catholic Adoption Agency are a partly government funded organization. They will not allow gay couples to adopt children from their agency, even if the couple are Catholic. They say it is the beliefs of their religion and they should be allowed to follow their religion. Gay couples opposing the ban on Gay adoption say it is discrimination against them for being Gay, which is against the law. Agree?


Jess (29): I think I would side with the Gay couple, especially if they themselves were Catholic. Whilst I respect peoples religious beliefs I do think that beliefs and religious practices can be much influenced by the time and place in which the followers live. And by the individuals within the Church/Mosque/Synagogue/Temple. Because of this I think that religious practice should adapt and respond to increased understanding and tolerance for certain issues, for example sexuality or women’s rights and look to the history or their religion and where the outlawing of certain practices stemmed from.

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