New bill to extend discrimination law

The definition of disability will soon include people with HIV and
cancer, offering them greater protection against

Work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith announced the government’s
commitment to new legislation at the launch of the European Year of
Disabled People last week.

The proposed Disability Bill will make it illegal for companies to
discriminate against workers with HIV and cancer. It will also
extend the Disability Discrimination Act 1998 to address some of
the existing loopholes in transport, premises, the public sector
and the membership of private clubs. This will make it illegal for
disabled people to be refused access to any public transport.

Other proposals include placing duties on the public sector to
promote equality of opportunity for disabled people, paving the way
for other employers to follow.

Learning difficulties charity Mencap welcomed the move and urged
the government to ensure that legislation would be included in this
year’s parliamentary session. It also highlighted the need for
specific policies relating to learning difficulties.

“We hope to see learning disability at the forefront of any
legislation as often other disabled groups are covered in
legislation that doesn’t include this disability,” said a Mencap

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