The Equality Act: Can you help us change the law?

We are campaigning for a change in the law to remove the exclusion of alcohol dependence in the Equality Act.

The Equality Act is there to protect people against discrimination and to ensure that people in the workplace and wider society are treated fairly.

The 10 protected characteristics included in the Act cover: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

But it doesn’t protect people with alcohol dependence.

Under the Act, people with a disability are protected, and while some forms of alcohol dependence meet the criteria to be classified as a disability, there is an exclusion clause which specifically exempts alcohol dependence from being a protected characteristic. This means that people with alcohol dependence or a history of alcohol dependence receive no protection from discrimination, at all.

This needs to change.

And that’s why we’re launching a petition calling on the government to lift the alcohol exclusion in the Equality Act.

Signing the petition will show your commitment to reducing the stigma experienced by people living with alcohol dependence, and may help in preventing them from continuing to be disadvantaged or discriminated against in law.

Why is this important?

Compared to discrimination law in the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – only Britain excludes alcohol dependence. This needs to change. The exclusion means that people with alcohol dependence can be prevented from getting employment, even if they have stopped drinking and are the best person for a job, or they can be dismissed without any effort to help them.

The government tells us that the exclusion exists because alcohol dependence is “self-induced”. We strongly disagree. No one chooses to become dependent on alcohol and anyone struggling deserves support without being discriminated against in this way.

Without the support that comes from being in work, our health and wellbeing can decline. Employers can also lose valuable talent and skills. As well as disadvantaging people in terms of employment and income, it can also discriminate against people in other areas of their lives, including housing. For example, some landlords refuse housing to people with alcohol dependence even if they are in recovery. This can prevent people who are in recovery from having much needed stability to make a fresh start.

If this discriminatory exclusion was lifted, it would help keep people in work and get them back into work (a Department for Work and Pensions priority for people with long-term health conditions and disabilities). It would also ensure that people get the housing and services they need.

Sign the petition to help us change the law

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