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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Faith charities delivering public services could increase discrimination

Idaho Day - International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia - was yesterday. One challenge is to ensure that LGBTQI people and others are not discriminated against in the delivery of public services as public sector reform proceeds in a period of austerity.

The "Big Society", a policy much promoted by the Government, and built around social action, public service reform and community empowerment, needs to be inclusive. You cannot have a "Big Society" and then implicitly or explictly exclude and marginalise some groups. Unitarians have long worked to promote social justice and led many initiatives for social improvement. We have never applied religious tests to our work.

We need joined up policies. One risk is that encouraging faith groups to be more active in delivery of public services could in some cases lead to a conflict with equality and diversity policy. This was one point I made in a submission on the "Big Society" to the Public Administration Select Committee review that has been picked up by the online edition of the magazine Third Sector.

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