UK Deputy Minister of ‘Land of Equal Law’ “Anti-Discrimination Law Barrier? don’t give up”

Mike Freer, the UK’s deputy minister for trade, trade and equality at the Ministry of International Trade, has an interview with the Hankyoreh at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jongno-gu, Seoul on the morning of the 12th. By Kim Hye-yoon, reporter [email protected]

“Politicians have to do the right thing, not just get popular. It is the right thing for a politician to do is to explain to the people the benefits that equality will bring to society. I hope that even if barriers appear in the effort to enact the equality law, South Korean politicians will not be discouraged.” Mike Freer, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Deputy Minister for Equality, visited Korea at the invitation of the Korean government to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of United Nations Veterans (November 11) and met with him at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jongno-gu, Seoul on the 12th and said: Deputy Minister Freer is a four-term member of the British Conservative Party and a politician who has been at the forefront of protecting equal rights, including promoting the human rights of ‘LGBT’ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender). He explained that the UK’s ‘Equality Act’ introduced 11 years ago, stipulating a comprehensive prohibition on discrimination, “protects religious freedom more effectively.” In November 2010, the United Kingdom incorporated nine separate anti-discrimination laws, including the Racial Relations Act of 1965, the Equal Benefit Act of 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Disabled Discrimination Act of 1995, into a comprehensive ‘Equality Act’ (116 articles) in November 2010. “The introduction of common rules to ensure that no one is treated unfairly on the basis of age, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation, marriage, fertility, race, religion or gender,” Freer explained. Korea’s anti-discrimination bill, which was recently referred to the Legislative and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly through a petition for consent of the National Assembly, also incorporates the existing Elderly Employment Act, the Disabled Discrimination Act, the Gender Equality Framework Act, and the National Human Rights Commission Act. In Britain, a broad agreement between the Conservatives and Labor has made it possible to enact an equality law, Freer said. During the legislative process, there were conflicts between Christians and LGBTQ groups, but it was said that the debate was not about hateful slurs about sexual orientation, but about excessive preferential treatment. Deputy Minister Freer said, “Even before the Equal Act came into force, sexual orientation was already protected through other laws, so the fundamental debate over whether to protect sexual orientation was not focused on the law. “I raised concerns that I might receive a .” He continued, “To solve this problem, the government tried to accommodate the demands and concerns of each organization as equal as possible during the legislative process.” Deputy Minister Freer said in response to the claim of conservative Christians in Korea that ‘a pastor who opposes homosexuality was disciplined because of the equality law in the UK’. “There is no hierarchy between rights under the Equality Act. Everyone has the right to the religion of their choice. Equality laws provide protection for religion on an equal footing with any other quality. And since the Equality Act is a civil law, it is not subject to prosecution, and preaching by religious people is not classified as a non-discrimination subject under the Equality Act. The UK is an example of how equality laws do not go against religious freedom.” Even the Anti-Discrimination Act and the Equality Act proposed by Park Min-min, Lee Sang-min, Kwon In-suk of the Democratic Party, and Jang Hye-young of the Justice Party do not punish the preaching of religious people.

Mike Freer, UK's Deputy Minister for Trade, Trade and Equality, has an interview with the Hankyoreh at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jongno-gu, Seoul on the morning of the 12th.  By Kim Hye-yoon, reporter unique@hani.co.kr

Mike Freer, the UK’s deputy minister for trade, trade and equality, is interviewed by the Hankyoreh at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jongno-gu, Seoul on the morning of the 12th. By Kim Hye-yoon, reporter [email protected]

The UK’s Unified Equality Act came into effect in 2010, △ Same-sex marriage legislation in 2013 △ Allowing ‘citizen partnership’ between heterosexual couples in 2019 △ Mandatory reporting of gender and wage gaps to employers in the public and private sectors in 2018 △ Announcement of the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities in July of this year led to The enactment of the Equality Act greatly contributed to the resolution of discrimination in various fields of society. However, Korea still has a long way to go before enacting an anti-discrimination law. Legislative discussions began in the 17th National Assembly in 2007, but were canceled due to opposition from conservative Christians. Recently, it was raised to the Legislative and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly in the form of a public petition, but it did not even schedule a review. The people’s power is opposed to the anti-discrimination law, and the leading presidential candidates are showing reservations or opposing the legislation. In the UK, to protect equal rights, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth, the Ministry of Labor and Pensions, the Ministry of Housing and Community Affairs, and the Ministry of International Trade have been appointed concurrently as ‘in charge of equality’ and are reorganizing the laws and systems related to equality by ministries. The situation in the UK, which is active in anti-discrimination and guarantee of equal rights, and our reality are very different. Still, Deputy Secretary Freer said, “Don’t give up on the barriers.” “In my case, as Deputy Export Minister, I work to encourage export companies to maximize their diversity and equal potential,” he said. By Choi Ha-yan, staff reporter [email protected]



Reference-www.hani.co.kr

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