Will the Scottish Parliament live up to its equal opportunity responsibilities? Test for the Parliament on Tuesday 18 March

On Tuesday 18 March the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee will take a decision on the ESS petition to urge the Scottish Government to bring forward legislation to end the compulsory requirement for Scottish mainland councils to accept the nominations of voting members of their education committees from the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church and another religious denomination.

ESS is arguing that the requirement is undemocratic and that the existing laws and their operation should be subject to review by the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee in the light of the Scottish Parliament’s equality ambitions and UK Equality Act of 2010 which requires public bodies to ensure equal treatment on the basis of religion and belief.

The ESS petition has the support of the Humanist Society Scotland and the Scottish Secular Society. The Scottish Parent Teacher Council supports the need for an equal opportunity review of the existing arrangements which have not been subject to parliamentary review since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

The petition is opposed by churches and faith groups who wish to preserve their existing undemocratic privileges which, according to the Church of Scotland, enables the three religious nominees on council education committees to ‘hold the balance of power’ in 19 out of Scotland’s 32 of them.

The (closed) petition with over 1700 signatories can be accessed at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/petitionPDF/PE01498.pdf 

Read the other submissions at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01498

It is not too late to make your views known on this matter to your MSP. Link to your MSP at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps/177.aspx

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