Since we last gathered for the awards, Liberate has launched its DIFERA accreditation scheme for organisations across the islands to show that they are diverse, inclusive, fair, equal, respectful and accepting places to work. The response to the scheme has been very positive with five Jersey and two Guernsey organisations now accredited, some of whom were represented at the awards night, and a number of other organisations in line for this year and next.
The Channel Islands first accredited bank, Standard Bank, attended the awards ceremony. Liberate has been working with Standard Bank for a few months now and in our discussions about how organisations can do more with the DIFERA accreditation, Standard Bank came up with a great idea that we are calling DIFERA+ Pay it Forward. You can read more about it here. We were delighted that Standard Bank chose to launch DIFERA+ at the awards night.
At the heart of DIFERA is the message that diversity makes groups and organisations stronger. With the implementation of Brexit, it is predicted that the islands’ populations will become more diverse as people come to the islands to work from further afield than the EU.
In what is an election year for Jersey, it is vitally important that we have politicians who understand what it means to be from a minority group in society and who remember to think about the few when putting in place policies for the many. Youth parliaments show the kind of creative thinking that happens when you ask a different group of people the big questions.
This year, a very – by his own admission – different candidate will be attempting to become a States of Jersey Senator – Anthony Lewis, our keynote speaker at the 2018 awards evening. At the time of the awards evening, both Bailiwicks had yet to pass anti-discrimination legislation to protect disabled islanders. Jersey has now done this with an addition to the Discrimination Law coming into force on 1 September 2018. Ant’s speech was, therefore, very timely as we consider the way in which we select our politicians. Does it need some reasonable adjustments to level the playing field not just for those with aphasia, but for others who may suffer from conditions that mean a gruelling physical schedule of pounding the streets with leaflets and doing the rounds of the polling stations is beyond their ability?
If we want to encourage more diverse voices in our States that reflect the diversity of these islands, we need to ask how we enable those with caring responsibilities, those for whom English is a second language and those who do not have the disposable income to run a political campaign to stand successfully. At the moment, the system favours – well, you can see who the system favours.
Ant’s speech got a standing ovation at the awards and we wish him every success in his bid to become a Senator.
The evening opened with a preview of the Jersey Green Room Club’s production of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” and closed with Laydee and the Amp taking to the stage.
We owe a huge debt of thanks to Channel Television, especially to Karen Rankine, Hannah Bechelet and Lydia Hamilton who agreed to allow us to use their already formed Diversity Panel as our judging panel for the awards. Thank you also to panel members who gave their time to read the nominations and make the very difficult decision as to who should receive the award in each category. The judging was incredibly tight and it came down to one or two tiny factors in determining the winners.
The Liberate Committees of Guernsey and Jersey would like to thank the Pomme d’Or for their support and sponsorship. We would like to thank our main sponsors, Lloyds Bank and Citi – we really could not have done this without you. We would like to thank those who nominated organisations and those who were nominees – the awards are all about the amazing work you are doing.
Best Small to Medium Employer (up to 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s)) – BCR Law – the first DIFERA accredited law firm in the Channel Islands, the judging panel were impressed by their early adoption of DIFERA and their involvement with the ‘Every Child Our Future’ scheme;
Best Medium to Large Employer (more than 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s)) – Deloitte – the judging panel were moved by the personal stories of two employees who had been supported by Deloitte’s inclusion initiatives for Muslim employees and women;
Best Service Provider (as nominated by themselves or the general public) – The Channel Islands Co-Operative Society – the CI Co-Op’s autism hour is not related to the core business of the CI Co-Op, but is a genuine attempt to include an excluded minority in a day-to-day activity. As such, the judging panel felt that it was exactly the sort of initiative that the awards were set up to encourage;
Best Educational Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public) – Guernsey College of Further Education – the depth and variety of educational activities undertaken by the college to promote inclusion across the campus impressed the judging panel (award being collected by Hugo Forrester of Liberate Guernsey);
Best Not-for-Profit Support Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public) – Helping Wings Jersey – the time and effort taken by this small charity to get the permission necessary to install a hand control in their aircraft so people with lower limb disability can experience flying made the judges’ decision in this category.
Two awards that are in the gift of Liberate were presented, too. The Liberate Special Award was given to the States of Guernsey, Alderney and Jersey in recognition of their work in introducing same-sex marriage legislation to the Channel Islands. The Liberate Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Margaret McDonaugh MBE in recognition of her service to youth theatre projects in Guernsey (award being collected by Deputy Emilie Yerby of States of Guernsey).
For many years, Margaret taught drama in Guernsey Schools. She started the Guernsey Youth Theatre in about 1977 – as a by-word for inclusion. She continues to gather in youngsters of all abilities to her workshops, productions, summer schools and theatre trips – all to promote, foster and facilitate drama and theatre for young people and the wider community. Margaret was made an MBE in 2006 for services to youth theatre.
The awards ceremony will be held in Guernsey in 2019.
To find out more about the awards, please visit www.liberate.je/awards
Nominations for the 2018 Liberate Channel Islands Equality and Diversity Awards have now closed and Liberate report having had a terrific response from the public for nominees.
Vic Tanner Davy, CEO Liberate, said: “The nominees are from across the islands, across business sectors and across different sizes of organisation. We have had nominations from organisations that are working on different inclusion strands including women, religious minorities, children with special educational needs, older members of the community, those with mental ill health, physical disabilities, long-term illness and learning disabilities, LGBT+ people, young carers and BAME youth.”
The awards, that are open to nominees in both Bailiwicks, were first held as part of Pride week in 2016. This year the awards ceremony will be held on Friday 16 March. The publicly nominated awards that will be presented at the ceremony are:
The awards will be judged by an independent diversity panel.
Vic Tanner Davy said: “I do not envy our judges; the standard of the nominations and quality of work being carried out in this area across the islands is extremely high. As far as Liberate is concerned, every nominee is a winner for the game-changing initiatives they are putting in place to make our islands inclusive and accepting places to live and work. The awards were set up precisely to spotlight these programmes and honour the people doing such important work, often under the radar.”
The awards ceremony will be held in Jersey in 2018 and in Guernsey in 2019.
The 2018 Liberate Channel Islands Equality and Diversity Awards nominees are:
Best Small to Medium Employer (up to 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s))
BCR Law (in Jersey)
Best Medium to Large Employer (more than 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s))
Citi (in Jersey)
Deloitte (in Channel Islands)
Standard Bank (in Jersey)
Best Service Provider (as nominated by themselves or the general public)
Best Educational Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public)
Deloitte (in Channel Islands)
Youth Commission (in Guernsey and Alderney)
Lloyds Community Bank (in Channel Islands)
Best Not-for-Profit Support Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public)
Helping Wings (in Jersey)
Les Amis (in Jersey)
Lloyds Community Bank (in Channel Islands)
To find out more about the awards, please visit www.liberate.je/awards
Standard Bank Wealth International and the charity Liberate are pleased to announce that Standard Bank is the first bank in the Channel Islands to be awarded the DIFERA employer accreditation, demonstrating their credentials as a diverse, inclusive, fair, equal, respectful and accepting place to work.
Liberate conducted an audit of Standard Bank’s policies and procedures and surveyed Standard Bank’s employees in Jersey and the Isle of Man to find out how diverse the workforce is, what it is like to work for Standard Bank, how employees feel about DIFERA and how fairly development opportunities including promotion, remuneration and training are distributed across the workforce. From these results, Liberate produced a comprehensive report that will act as the benchmark from which to measure Standard Bank’s journey on the DIFERA scheme.
Vic Tanner Davy, CEO of Liberate, said: “Standard Bank’s results were very encouraging and showed a culture of respect and acceptance within the bank. The bank’s policies and procedures were particularly comprehensive and well-written with, for example, a maternity policy that is more generous for pregnant employees than statute. This type of provision supports women in particular within the workplace, helps retain that talent through pregnancy and afterwards, and attracts more women to work for Standard Bank, widening their choice of candidates.”
Having produced the report Liberate presented it to the Executive Team at Standard Bank in a meeting that discussed a wide range of initiatives including ways to recruit more disabled people to work for the bank and ways to increase the number of women at senior levels.
Tina Monro, Head of Human Capital for Standard Bank Wealth International, said: “We committed to this review process with the hope of gaining insights into our culture and what our people were thinking and feeling about the bank as an inclusive workplace, but came out of it with a very detailed analysis across a range of inputs and a clear action plan for improvements. Liberate’s work was thorough, diligent and very professional”.
Will Thorp, CEO for Standard Bank Wealth International, said: “We are delighted to have been able to have this resource available to us, particularly through a charity. This work has been invaluable to us and we are looking forward to continuing with this partnership as we focus on our organisational culture.”
The States of Jersey today approved the amendments to Jersey’s marriage legislation that will allow same sex couples and couples where one or both partners are transgender to marry.
Liberate was formed to respond to the calls for same sex marriage across the Channel Islands. Guernsey achieved equal marriage last year and, finally, after three and a half years of working on this issue and a bit later than planned, it happened in Jersey today! The States of Jersey voted 43:1 in favour of legalising same sex marriage. The law now has to go to Privy Council for Royal Assent, which could take about three months, so we expect to see same sex couples walking down the aisle in Jersey by early May 2018.
We are delighted that marriage is now opened up to same sex couples and that open air weddings are now possible. As Liberate’s petition showed, which reached Russia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Romania, the USA and all points in between, the world has been watching this debate and it is fantastic that we can now welcome the world to our island to get married on its beautiful beaches and coastal areas.
Thank you to everyone who engaged in the political process and signed the petition, wrote an email, explained to people why this was needed by the LGBT+ community – it all helped demonstrate why it was so important that this legislation was passed and passed with no exemptions.
We live in a democracy and the fact that we are all free to speak is something to be cherished. The debate has been impressive in terms of the number and variety of people it has engaged and in the respect shown by all sides. What this proves is that our island is home to diverse groups and communities, who will not always agree on every issue, but that is what makes us stronger. It is vital that we can share our views and continue to do so, especially with people we don’t agree with, so that we can learn from each other.
Liberate does not want to see anybody taken to tribunal for their genuinely held religious beliefs. Our concern when the Scrutiny Panel lodged the amendment containing the tolerance clause was that it was unworkable in practice and would be highly divisive, resulting in more not fewer tribunal cases. We would much prefer to see an island where differing beliefs are accepted and respected – if we are kind to one another, nobody should ever end up in a tribunal.
We would like to thank everyone who worked within and outside of the States of Jersey to make equal marriage happen. In particular, Deputy Sam Mezec and Reform Jersey who started this journey in 2014. We also wish to thank the Chief Minister Ian Gorst and his team for their determination that this was the right thing to do for the island and their unwaivering support throughout the process, even when things didn’t go to plan.
Finally, there were many speeches within the States Chamber today that expressed the need for the island to heal the divisions caused by such an impassioned debate. We hope that this will happen and that everyone will make the effort to reach out to those who disagreed with them on this issue.
There is still work to do to tidy up a few amendments to the law as passed today and around surrogacy, civil partnership and divorce laws, but these are issues for another day. Today, on the first day of LGBT+ history month, Jersey made a bit of LGBT+ history.
Liberate sent the following email to all States members this morning ahead of tomorrow’s debate:
We are writing to all States members to ask for your support in the passage of the Draft Marriage and Civil Status (Amendment No. 4) (Jersey) Law that is due to be debated in this week’s States sitting. Please vote against (P91/2017 Amd(2)) the amendment lodged by the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel on 16 January 2018.
Liberate opposes the introduction of the ‘tolerance clause’ that would allow an individual business owner with a religious conviction to discriminate legally against another individual in Jersey society in the provision of goods and services for a same-sex wedding. This position has public support. The petition (https://www.change.org/p/members-of-the-states-of-jersey-no-tolerance-clause-for-same-sex-marriage-law) launched 10 days ago by Liberate asking States members not to include a tolerance clause in the marriage legislation has now had nearly 5,000 signatories.
Whenever Liberate has been asked for input to this process, we have endeavoured to keep the debate respectful of all views and strongly support the fact that, under the new law, religious officials working within religious organisations that do not, for whatever reason, provide for same sex marriages will continue to be able to work within their governing body’s rules and regulations without breaching discrimination legislation in the island.
However, we believe that enshrining in law a ‘tolerance clause’ that sanctions the ability for individual to discriminate against individual is divisive and can only result in unhappiness for all concerned – the same sex couple who are refused a service and the business owner who discriminates and then has their religious conviction tested at a tribunal hearing.
The Jersey Evangelical Alliance have stated in their open letter to States members that: “If the law is passed without the current amendments it would mean that people of religious conviction would likely face intolerance and discrimination if they do not … provide goods and services that would endorse a same-sex marriage.” This is a misunderstanding of what it means to be discriminated against within law.
Being prevented from acting on deeply held beliefs by the law of the land is not discrimination. For example, a person might hold a deep belief about the amount of tax the richest 10% of the population should pay. This is not an extreme belief. Many people think that the rich do not pay enough tax, and believe that passionately and sincerely. However, should business owners with that belief be permitted by law to charge rich people, or people they perceive as rich, two times GST on a purchase? No, of course not, and the law stops business owners with a ‘Robin Hood’ belief from acting in that way. Because the law stops all business owners from acting in that way it does not discriminate between business owners with this belief and business owners without this belief. All business owners are expected to act in accordance with the law around charging GST.
Jersey has had discrimination legislation since September 2014. The introduction of any kind of tolerance clause for an individually held belief, be it religious, philosophical or political, starts a process of eroding the protections our island started to put in place less than 4 years ago, and would run counter to international opinion on the importance of not enshrining within anti-discrimination legislation these kind of exemptions.
We are asking States members to, therefore, reject ‘the tolerance clause’ by voting against (P91/2017 Amd(2)) the amendment lodged by the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel on 16 January 2018.
Jersey wedding suppliers have signed an open letter to States of Jersey members stating their opposition to a tolerance clause within the Marriage Law.
The letter reads:
We the undersigned, as suppliers of goods and services for weddings, are opposed to the States of Jersey enacting any form of ‘tolerance clause’ that permits a business owner of religious conviction from discriminating in the provision of their goods and services against a same sex couple who wish to marry.
We consider that a ‘tolerance clause’ is unnecessary and would be bad for the wedding industry as a whole in the island with same sex couples, their friends and families seeking alternatives to traditional wedding services in order to avoid the experience of being discriminated against.
We are also concerned that such a clause would have a negative impact on the island’s international reputation as a friendly place to get married.
As a business, we are looking forward to serving gay, lesbian and transgender people as clients and welcome the new opportunities that are opened up by introducing same sex marriage in the island.
We ask States members to say ‘no’ to a tolerance clause at the States sitting on 30 January 2018.
Jayne Ozanne, a member of the Church of England’s General Synod, and Reverend Graeme Halls, Superintendent of the Methodist Circuit in Jersey, have written open letters this weekend urging States of Jersey members to reject the so called ‘tolerance clause’ from marriage legislation that is due to be debated this week.
The Scrutiny Panel’s amendment to the Marriage Law that includes the ‘tolerance clause’ would permit the following to happen in Jersey: where an individual business owner on grounds of religious conviction objects to participating in an Equal Marriage, they may refuse to provide goods and services to the marriage ceremony and/or a social event or function associated with the marriage.
For Jayne Ozanne, an openly gay evangelical Christian, “anything that seeks to divide and separate us, that looks to demonise one group as the ‘other’ can only ever cause pain and suffering, particularly for the most vulnerable in our society.”
For Reverend Halls the line is clear: “This is a debate about how we ensure all of our community has equal rights and responsibilities, and that means that one group does not and cannot have the right to discriminate against another, and certainly not for that to be enshrined in law.”
Reverend Halls’ letter looks back at times when the Church’s view has shifted immeasurably on issues such as slavery and women’s equality, whilst Jayne Ozanne’s letter looks forward to the next generation of Anglicans, who support same-sex marriage overwhelmingly: “Virtually all main-stream denominations are now discussing how best to recognise and bless same sex unions, and many have gone further to enable same-sex couples to marry in church. Only last summer, the Episcopal Church of Scotland voted to allow same-sex marriage”.
Both leaders remind their readers of the Christian value of love for thy neighbour.
Revered Halls: “Surely we seek a world where all are respected, all are shown equal care, and all this because, whether we have faith or not, we are one humanity, and for those with faith, we believe all are equally loved by God, made in God’s image, one Body, many parts.”
Jayne Ozanne: “My prayer would be that we build a society that knits us closer together, that we enshrine the values that make us thrive and that we seek to embrace the diversity and equality of all. To do otherwise would be create a society that is defined by its divisions, which builds walls rather than bridges, and so opens the door to further discrimination against those who are our neighbours.”
There have been a number of media reports about the amendment that has been lodged by the Scrutiny Panel following their review of the Marriage Law lodged by the Chief Minister in October 2017.
The Marriage Law as lodged by the Chief Minister permitted religious organisations, Anglican clergy and authorised religious officials to refuse to solemnise or otherwise participate in same sex marriages or marriages involving a transgender person (“Equal Marriage”) without being in breach of discrimination legislation.
Until such time as religious organisations resolve their own internal conflicts over this issue and adopt Equal Marriage, this is one way solve the problem of religious officials being compelled to do something by law that goes against their organisation’s rules and regulations, and Liberate supports this provision for religious organisations and their officials.
This week’s amendment goes further and also permits the following to happen:
The Scrutiny Panel have called this a ‘tolerance clause’. They have said that they are concerned about the absence of protections in the Marriage Law for people who believe they cannot participate in same sex marriage on the basis of their religious convictions.
Liberate does not support this amendment to the Marriage Law and the consequential amendment to the Discrimination Law.
Throughout this debate there has been a conflation of religious belief with being anti-same sex marriage. The Scrutiny Panel has also fallen into this trap in the provisions made by their amendment.
Having a religious conviction does not mean that you will be anti-same sex marriage, just as being part of the LGBT+ community does not mean that you will be pro-same sex marriage. There are a multiplicity of views, and reasons behind those views, across society. All one can safely say is that there are those who are for same sex marriage and those who are not – whether their reason is based on a religious belief or not.
Last month, Indiana University published the first national (USA) study to experimentally examine public opinion on business service provision to sexual minorities. Federal US law currently allows service refusal to sexual minorities, with religious accommodation used to justify denial of services to same sex couples. This is similar to what is being proposed by the Scrutiny Panel and crucially the same justification for doing it. The study demonstrated that American support for the denial of services to same sex couples is driven not by religious-specific freedom but, instead, by personal opposition to marriage rights.
This is not surprising. As human beings, we all have unconscious biases that manifest in prejudicial behaviours against ‘people who are not like us’. Legitimising those prejudices through a selective reading of a sacred text is one way to deal with fears about otherness and bolster confidence about our choice to deny someone else the privileges we enjoy. As the study found, denying services to same sex couples has everything to do with our underlying prejudices and very little to do with a desire to accommodate religious conviction.
This makes sense. If this was not the case, why would some people of religious conviction support same sex marriage? The Scrutiny Panel received submissions from both the Methodist Church and the Jewish Congregation, neither called for a tolerance clause. Religious conviction on its own is not enough to make you anti-same sex marriage, there has to be another ingredient.
This is why Liberate cannot support the Scrutiny Panel’s amendment because it sets up an artificial division within society between those of religious conviction and those in same sex relationships. In seeking to stop the sort of social discord seen in cases such as the Asher’s Bakery case in Northern Ireland and stop those business owners of religious conviction from being put out of business the Scrutiny Panel has made division much more likely.
Take this scenario: a same sex couple approach a florist to do the flowers for their marriage ceremony. The florist refuses because they are a same sex couple.
What is the first thing that the same sex couple are going to do? They are going to tell people of their bad experience, not necessarily for malicious reasons but to ensure that other same sex couples do not have the same experience. Pretty soon that florist will be on an unofficial ‘blacklist’ and will see their clientele shrink to those who support their view of same sex marriage. This may or may not be enough people to sustain their business.
The second thing that the same sex couple might do is to take the florist to a tribunal for direct discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation. Taking a tribunal case costs the complainant nothing, defending one would cost the florist. In tribunal the florist would need to prove their religious conviction. As the transgender community will testify, having to prove a personal belief to a tribunal is a degrading experience.
The problem here is that the amendment produced by the Scrutiny Panel does not define ‘religious conviction’ so we have no idea to what degree the florist would need to prove this. It could be just a belief they hold or it could be that they are a regular attendee at a particular place of worship.
Now, take this scenario: a same sex couple approach a florist to do the flowers for their marriage ceremony. The florist refuses because they are already booked for that day.
How do the same sex couple now respond? They look for another florist.
Given the likely outcomes of the first scenario, what is the likelihood that the florist of religious conviction will respond as in the second scenario, even with the Scrutiny Panel’s amendment in place? How different is that from how a florist of religious conviction would respond under the law as it currently stands?
Businesses choose who they serve all the time and adopt numerous strategies to avoid causing potential clients offence when they refuse their business. This is because businesses want to continue in business. They don’t want a reputation as a place that discriminates.
Liberate does not want to see business owners of religious conviction blacklisted. Liberate wants to persuade them to change their minds, to see diversity as a good thing for their business and not something that challenges them. Enabling businesses to shut their doors to a group of people legally does not allow for the possibility that the florist might change their mind once they have witnessed the positive things that opening up marriage to everyone can bring to the island’s economic and social life. Unfortunately, once someone has discriminated against same sex couples that reputation will stick to them.
If you support Liberate’s position on the Scrutiny Panel’s amendment, please sign our petition asking States members not to pass it at the States sitting on 30 January 2018.
The 2018 Liberate Channel Islands Equality and Diversity Awards will honour those organisations and individuals that place inclusivity at the heart of what they do and are to be held on Friday 16 March 2018 in St Helier, Jersey.
Liberate are hosting the second awards dinner to celebrate those organisations and individuals in the Channel Islands who are supporting equality and diversity whether it be focused on race, gender, sexuality, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity/paternity, age or disability.
Vic Tanner Davy, CEO Liberate, said: “So often we hear in the media about organisations that get it wrong and find themselves in front of a tribunal. These awards are about celebrating the organisations that are getting it right. They understand that inclusion is not just good for business, but it is the right thing to do to treat employees and customers with respect.”
The awards, that are open to nominees in both Bailiwicks, were first held as part of Pride week in 2016. The evening was a great success with Channel Islands organisations Law At Work (Channel Islands) Limited, RBC Wealth Management International, Dandy, Lloyds Bank and Barnardo’s Guernsey all taking home awards. Special awards were presented to the Jersey Social Security Department and Daphne Minihane MBE DSG.
Liberate are seeking nominations from members of the public for the following awards:
The awards will be judged by an independent diversity panel.
The awards ceremony will be held in Jersey in 2018 and in Guernsey in 2019.
To nominate an individual or organisation that has made a difference to equality and diversity in the Channel Islands, please visit www.liberate.je/awards where you can find out more about the categories and download a nomination form.
BCR Law enrolled in the DIFERA scheme run by the equality and diversity charity, Liberate, in June 2017. As part of its accreditation, the firm’s recruitment, staff training and other policies were reviewed by the charity and the firm’s culture was assessed by Liberate through an anonymised staff questionnaire.
The law firm will now appoint “champions” of the scheme to affirm the DIFERA principles for both incoming and existing staff members. The training will be facilitated by Liberate’s CXO, Paddy Haversham-Quaid, covering the principles of diversity, equality and fairness in the workplace. They will in turn train their colleagues.
Honorary CEO of Liberate, Vic Tanner Davy, said: “Liberate is delighted that BCR Law is the first law firm to receive the DIFERA accreditation. We are looking forward to working with them to create their DIFERA champions group and strategy for the next two years. We were very impressed with the work that BCR Law has done to date in this area and they are worthy recipients of the accreditation.”
Wendy Lambert, Partner at BCR Law, said: “We felt it was important for BCR Law to be assessed independently by a ground-breaking organisation and to be educated further about diversity and inclusion to enhance the positive culture of the firm. It offers further opportunities for staff engagement and will also enhance client confidence by showing our willingness to seek training and scrutinise ourselves. We’re proud to demonstrate this to our clients, as well as to other organisations and businesses.”