CI Equality & Diversity Awards 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:

  • Best Small to Medium Employer (up to 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s));
  • Best Medium to Large Employer (more than 80 employees) (as nominated by their employee(s));
  • Best Service Provider (as nominated by themselves or the general public);
  • Best Educational Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public);
  • Best Not-for-Profit Support Initiative (as nominated by themselves or the general public).

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 where you can find out more about the categories and download a nomination form.

BCR Law receives Liberate’s DIFERA accreditation

The DIFERA accreditation logo

A JERSEY law firm has become the first within the legal profession in the Channel Islands to receive independent accreditation for having a diverse, fair and accepting workplace culture.

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.”

An open letter to all Members of the States of Jersey on the subject of the Draft Marriage Law

Today, we have sent the following open letter to all Members of the States of Jersey on the subject of the Draft Marriage and Civil Status (Amendment No. 4) (Jersey) Law to be debated on Tuesday 14 November 2017.

Dear States Member

On 22 September 2015, the States of Jersey made a commitment to the people of the Island they serve that: “appropriate legislation should be brought forward for approval to allow same-sex couples to get married in Jersey, with the legislation to –

  • include civil marriage and religious marriage with appropriate safeguards in place to protect the rights of religious organisations and their officials who do not wish to conduct same-sex marriages;
  • include allowing people in civil partnerships to convert their partnership into marriage;
  • include retention of terms such as ‘husband and wife’, ‘mother and father’ in legislation;
  • not include a spousal veto in respect of gender recognition.”

Other commitments were also made on that day, which have yet to be delivered and which we trust will continue to be worked on by the Chief Minister’s Department. Liberate is pleased that the first part of the proposition has now been delivered.

Liberate has read thoroughly the draft law lodged by the Chief Minister on 3 October 2017 and we have responded to the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel’s request for evidence, considering each of the terms set by the panel for their scrutiny. Our conclusion is that the law, as drafted and amended, fulfils successfully part (a) of the ‘in principle’ decision taken by the States Chamber on 22 September 2015. (Our response to the Scrutiny Panel’s request for evidence can be read here.)

Over the last two months, there have been a number of comments in the media regarding the necessity of including a so-called ‘conscience clause’ in the marriage law. Many will have read the memo from the Christian Legal Centre in the UK circulated last weekend to Jersey politicians.

To be clear, a ‘conscience clause’ is not the same as the ‘quadruple lock’, which is fully implemented within the draft marriage law and which protects members of the clergy from being forced to perform a marriage ceremony against their conscience. Were a ‘conscience clause’ to exist in law, it would relate to members of the general public who happen to hold a particular religious view that, in this case, opposes same-sex marriage.

Liberate urges Members to reject calls for any such addition to the marriage law on the grounds that defining the ability for one group to discriminate legally, through an exemption, against another group sits within the Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013. Therefore, the ‘conscience clause’ argument is not, in our view, a valid reason to delay the passage of the marriage legislation and is a separate issue that should be dealt with as such.

Finally, Liberate would ask States Members to do all in their power to minimise any further delays to the passage of the marriage law for three reasons:

  • Jersey’s tourism industry needs to know where it stands to be able to advertise open-air ceremonies and same-sex weddings in 2018;
  • Jersey’s international reputation as a safe tourist destination that welcomes all visitors equally would have that reputation questioned by further delays to this legislation, particularly as both Guernsey and Alderney have changed their marriage laws – it would appear as if Jersey were deliberately ‘dragging its heels’; and,
  • individual Islanders’ lives and finances are being impacted by the delays – same-sex couples’ wedding plans are being pushed back as they still do not know when they will be able to marry and couples, who wish to have an open-air ceremony, are now having to make alternative arrangements to find an available approved venue that, with less than a year to the ceremony, is an almost impossible task.

Yours faithfully,

Vic Tanner Davy

(Honorary) Chief Executive Officer

For and on behalf of Liberate

Liberate’s reponse to Scrutiny’s request for evidence on draft marriage law

Many of you will be aware that the passage of the marriage legislation that will, amongst other things, introduce same-sex marriage in Jersey has suffered further delays. This time at the hands of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel (Deputy John le Fondre, Senator Sarah Ferguson and Deputy Simon Bree), who sent a letter to the Chief Minister last week stating that they would be seeking to further scrutinise the law following the debate on 14 November 2017. This means that the debate on 14 November can only be an ‘in principle’ debate about the new law.

In practical terms, what this means for couples seeking to marry in 2018 is that the 31 March 2018 date is unlikely. Having delayed the law, the Scrutiny Panel have an extra four States’ sittings after 14 November before they must respond, which takes us to mid-December. If the legislation were to pass in December, it would need to go to Privy Council in January, but there is no Privy Council in January, so February is the earliest it could be passed into law. However, Privy Council can take three months, which would take us to a new earliest date of end of May 2018.

The Scrutiny Panel’s reasons for delaying the legislation further are the amendments that the Chief Minister lodged after lodging the draft law. They state that they are ‘significant legislative changes’. In fact, they are not significant and mostly correct spelling and grammar errors. Further, the Scrutiny Panel were aware that an amendment would be lodged by the Chief Minister on 15 September 2017, so this should not have come as any surprise to them.

Liberate have read carefully both the draft law and the amendment, and we have written an eight-page response to the Scrutiny Panel’s request for evidence. You can read our response here.

We were invited to submit evidence on 16 October 2017 and we submitted our response on 1 November 2017. We are not politicians, paid from the public purse to do this work; we are volunteers, holding down another job and doing this in our spare time. We have managed to read and respond thoroughly to all of Scrutiny’s points of reference and we can see no good reason for an extended examination by Scrutiny of the draft law.

The States of Jersey undertook to have the law in place by the end of this year. The delays are now costing members of the public money (in lost deposits, cancelled flights etc) and jepardising couples’ wedding plans. It is not only same-sex couples who are being affected, opposite-sex couples are also having their plans thrown into disarray. Those couples, who were planning an open-air wedding, are now having to seek approved venues that can accommodate their date as a late booking.

Disability discrimination consultation – social or medical?

The consultation on the disability part of Jersey’s discrimination law is coming to a close and there has been a lot of talk about social and medical models of disability in the consultation meetings Liberate has been in.

Jersey has taken an interesting path when it comes to the drafting of the disability part of the discrimination legislation. There has been a serious attempt to draft legislation that reflects a social model of disability, i.e. instead  of  focusing  on  the  medical effect of the impairment, it focuses on the way that the individual interacts with barriers that hinder their full participation in society. It is not entirely convincing that the draft legislation succeeds in this.

The de-medicalisation of disabled people and their lives is a desirable and laudable goal. However, the social model is not without its problems including –

  • Removing the concept of impairment denies that disabled people have a difference and that they are disabled by that difference as much as by social barriers – it is the interaction of the body and social barriers that causes the disability;
  • The barrier-free environment (ideally, created by anti-discrimination legislation) is a myth. It is true that some social barriers may be removed, e.g. ramps instead of stairs for wheelchair users.  However, it is impossible to remove all the obstacles to people with impairment because some of them are inextricable aspects of the impairment, e.g. there are no social barriers that can be removed for someone with an impairment that causes constant pain;
  • In order to manage disability, people with an impairment have to see themselves as disabled. Many people with impairments reject the identity of ‘disabled person’. Social barriers for one disabled individual are not social barriers for another, even if the impairment is the same. Every individual will be different.

(see ‘The social model of disability: an outdated ideology?’, Shakespeare, 2002)

The conclusion of this train of thought is that a mixture of social and medical models might more properly recognise impairment and barriers working together to produce disadvantage. In this, Jersey’s draft law succeeds, in as much as the new paragraph 8 defines disability medically and the new Article 7A acknowledges the social barriers that need to be removed through the process of reasonable adjustment.

Employers in the sessions we attended tended to want more clarity over whether an employee or customer would be considered disabled, i.e. favouring a medical model. To be fair to most of the businesses we met, this is in order to do the right thing and make the reasonable adjustments that the disabled person needs to function equally in society.

The reaction from others with an interest in the draft law in the sessions we attended has been mixed. Some favour the social model as moving the emphasis off the impairment of the disabled person to the barrier to equality that society creates. Others worry about the lack of clarity over who is disabled and therefore ‘qualifies’ for reasonable adjustments to be requested. Their concern is that, to answer this question, they would need to ask it of the Tribunal, which could see a rise in case numbers and places the burden of bringing a case on the shoulders of the disabled person.

It will be interesting to see what the results of the consultation bring in terms of a final draft of the law.

Referendum Commission

We have received an email from Mark Egan, Greffier to the States of Jersey. He is recruiting for 4 members of the new Referendum Commission plus its chair.

The Referendum Commission is a new body which will have two jobs:

  • To advise the Assembly on the question to be put in a referendum, to help ensure it is fair and impartial; and
  • To choose the lead campaign groups on either side in the referendum (the lead groups can spend more money and will have some assistance in terms of distribution of campaign material).

Commissioners will play an important role in ensuring that any future referendums are fair and well run.

Anyone can serve on the Referendum Commission if they have an interest in Jersey politics and can demonstrate:

  • good judgement and integrity and the capacity to be independent and impartial when dealing with contentious political questions;
  • the ability to participate in committee meetings, making a contribution listening to other views, and compromising where necessary; and
  • good oral communication skills.

The chair must have a successful, board-level or equivalent, track record within the public, private or not-for-profit sectors that demonstrates experience of:

  • chairing meetings effectively and undertaking media and ambassadorial work on behalf of an organisation
  • building and managing relationships with multiple stakeholders
  • handling conflicts of interest, and
  • working effectively with politicians and influencing people at the highest level.

This information sheet provides more information. If you (or anyone interested in these roles) have any questions please email or give Mark a call.

The deadline for applications is 3 November 2017 – all Mark needs is a letter or email setting out some information about the applicant’s working background and explaining why they wish to serve on the Commission.

Major overhaul of Jersey marriage laws

The following press release was issued today by the States of Jersey:

Same-sex couples will be able to get married in Jersey from spring 2018 onwards thanks to a major overhaul of the Island’s marriage laws.

Jersey’s Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Andrew Green, has proposed new legislation, which has been drawn up following the September 2015 decision by the States Assembly to amend the Marriage and Civil Status (Jersey) Law in principle.

Senator Green said: “It’s fantastic news that we have lodged this important piece of legislation – it will enable same-sex couples to marry, and also outlines changes that will benefit any couple intending to get married.

“The changes contained in the new legislation are far-reaching, and as a result the new Law is being lodged later than was hoped. We are sorry for the delay, which we realise must have been frustrating for couples who have been wanting to plan their ceremony. It’s an important step, and it is equally important that we get it right.”

The changes will make it easier for couples, both Jersey residents and those who live elsewhere, to organise their wedding. There is provision for couples to get married in open air locations, as well as to have more choice over the content of their ceremony and the person conducting it.

Tighter controls are included to safeguard against sham and forced marriages, ensuring that those wishing to marry have the necessary immigration status.

And the new Law will also make it much easier for couples to apply to get married – for the first time it will be possible to apply online.

The new law is due to be debated in the States Assembly in mid-November.

Pride 2017

CI Pride 2017 started on Friday 8 September 2017 with a wedding-themed dress down day and an announcement from the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, that the passage of marriage legislation in Jersey had been delayed and we would not see same-sex couples walking up the aisle until Spring 2018. This was a huge disappointment (and terrible timing)! However, it made the point of Pride even more firmly. Something that was not lost on the staff at HSBC, who outdid their banking rivals by lighting up their waterfront offices in the Pride colours for the whole week.

The Parade

The Channel Islands’ Pride 2017 parade left West’s Centre at 3pm on Saturday 9 September. The parade was led by the States of Jersey Fire Service in one of their fire trucks and a taxi decorated with rainbows. Due to the weather forecast, Liberate think that the numbers were a little down on 2016, but that there were still over 3,000 people in the parade through the streets of St Helier.

The parade was led by Panda the Pony and her owner, Rosemary Lothian. As well as those who had dressed up in wedding gear, in keeping with this year’s marriage theme, there were representatives from many CI organisations including Andium Homes, RBC, HSBC, NatWest Bank, Lloyds Bank, Barclays Bank, Waitrose, Highlands College, the WI, Unite the Union, NASUWT and the Jersey Youth Service. Music on the route was provided by The Word on the Street.

In Commercial Street, a 50m long rainbow flag was passed over the heads of the walkers and created a rainbow river down the street. At which point, the heavens opened. What had been a beautifully sunny September afternoon became, for about half an hour, a soaking wet swamp as the parade dashed for cover in all the bars around Weighbridge Square.

It didn’t take long for people to reappear in their see-through rain ponchos and to join in with the Jersey Youth Service’s flashmob that got everyone up and dancing.

The Square

The afternoon’s events commenced with speeches. Rachel French, Chair of Liberate, welcomed everyone and invited the Lead Sponsor’s CEO, Colin Macleod, to give his message of support to the diverse Channel Islands communities. Colin then introduced the hosts of the Pride stage, David Dale and Legs Up Lucy, who were familiar faces to those audience members who remember The Cosmopolitan in the 1990s.

The big act for the 2017 stage didn’t come any bigger than the London Gay Big Band, who despite the rain got the party started with a selection of well-known hits. Paula Randell then gave her Cher tribute impersonation with some help from David and Lucy. Finally, we welcomed an array of local talent to the stage, who were interpreted by our signer for the deaf and hard of hearing, Ella O’Connor.

Thank you

Pride 2017 could not have happened without our generous supporters and our volunteers who helped to marshal people and equipment on the day of Pride.

Thank you to The Channel Islands Co-Operative Society, our leading sponsor, Citi and G4S, our major sponsors. Thank you also to Magic Touch, who also created and sold all our merchandise, Mailmate, Delta and Vibert Marquees. Thank you to the Parish of St Helier, the States of Jersey Police, St John Ambulance and the Jersey Waterfront Development Company, who make the logistics of Pride so much easier.

Thank you all for your contribution to making CI Pride 2017 one to remember.

Parade Theme

The theme of 2017’s Pride parade was marriage.

As 2017 will see the introduction of same-sex marriage in both Jersey and Guernsey, the theme of 2017’s Pride parade was marriage. This long-awaited piece of legislation demonstrates in the most tangible way possible that the governments of the Channel Islands believe same-sex partnerships to be the equal of opposite-sex partnerships. We celebrated those who argued for this equality over the years and we commemorated those who would have dearly loved to be married but did not live to see this day.

Marriage, in whatever form, represents a potential force for good in the world through the support those two people give each other, through the children it might produce, and through the strength that comes from being in a partnership that can be then shared with others. There is a reason why the traditional Church of England marriage service says: “It enriches society and strengthens community.”

However you feel about the institution of marriage, we hope you agree that a loving, committed relationship between two people is always something to be celebrated. #IDo

ITV Channel’s fabulous video coverage of Pride 17:

Marriage legislation update

Liberate met the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, and Senators Andrew Green and Paul Routier, this morning. The Chief Minister started by reiterating his apology to the LGBT+ community for the delay in getting the legislation ready in time for it to be law by 1 January 2018. The delay was due to an under-estimation of the complexities involved in re-writing the marriage law and departmental problems that have now been resolved. He also reaffirmed his commitment to making equal marriage legal in Jersey.

We now have a tentative and cautious date of 31 March 2018 for same-sex marriage to be legal. The reason for the hesitation is because the part of the process that makes this primary piece of legislation law – Royal assent at Privy Council – is completely outside of the control of the States of Jersey.

The revised timetable is now: the draft of the law is due to be finished this week, it will be lodged in the States at the end of this month, it will be debated (and hopefully passed) by the States Chamber in mid-November, it will be sent to Privy Council in December for Royal assent, and this is the unknown bit – at the moment Privy Council are passing legislation from the Island quickly, but it could take up to 3 months to come back from Privy Council in the UK and become law over here – which takes us to the end of March 2018.

Having said this, it could come back as quickly as January 2018. The Chief Minister said that this could happen because of the UK government’s commitment to legislation that advances human and equal rights, but it is outside of his control to influence this.

Some of the changes to law that had been planned to come in at the same time as the new legislation will now be staged and brought in separately later, in order that the main change can be passed as soon as possible.

Disappointing though the delay is, Liberate is satisfied that Senator Gorst is sincere is his desire to see this legislation pass and will be doing all he can to make it pass as quickly as possible now.

It will be a relief to those waiting to marry next year to know that a summer wedding is still a possibility.

Don’t like wooden horses, Gavin? How about sounding brass and clanging cymbals?

by Vic Tanner Davy, CEO of Liberate

Another week, another rant by Gavin Ashenden against the LGBT+ community in the Jersey Evening Post. It is becoming predictable, tedious and just a little bit weird. Why is he so obsessed with a part of community that constitutes 10-12% (on a good day) of the population? Coincidentally, this is about the same percentage of people in Jersey who adhere to the Anglican faith (13%: Jersey Annual Social Survey 2015).

You may be surprised to learn that the persecution of both these minorities (any minority, in fact) concerns me. Nobody should feel that they cannot be themselves; that their views are in some way secondary to those of others. I know that some people who have a faith feel they cannot be open about it at work and that is unacceptable; just as some people who are LGBT+ also are not open about this identity for the same reasons. We have more in common than we have differences.

However, unlike Dr Ashenden, I do not see persecution and prejudice as the province of any one group against another. Persecutors, bigots, radicals, fundamentalists – call them what you will – come in all shapes, forms, races, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, ages and abilities. The LGBT+ community has the same number of keyboard warriors, who will be swift to advocate draconian measures against those who they see as limiting their freedoms, as the faith community.

It is a mistake to see one’s own group as holding the moral and ethical high ground against the marauding hoards who are “not like us”; for that way lies supremacy. Dr Ashenden paints the LGBT+ community as the architects of society’s moral decline and everyone else as brain-washed victims stumbling like zombies into a pit of sin. Only the Church (correction: the type of Church led by him) can save humanity from the furnace! (See what I mean about supremacy?)

At this juncture, I would remind Dr Ashenden of 1 Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.” On this over-crowded planet, we all need to find ways to live together – to love thy neighbour. We cannot see things the same way as those around us all the time and that means agreeing to disagree sometimes.

It is a shame that Dr Ashenden seems unable to admit this alternative way of being. Instead, he has now made it his mission to tear apart the Church of England unless it accedes to his world view. In a letter to the Daily Telegraph in July this year, he placed the Archbishop of Canterbury “under notice that unless he leads the Church in a way that remains consistent with the values and authority of the bible as opposed to progressive secularism, he will risk some kind of revolt in the form of an independence movement.” Going on to say that, “there will be a significant number who will secede and reconstitute an Anglican church to keep faith with authentic Anglican Christianity.”

If a split in the Church of England were to happen, it would be more catastrophic for our country than any apocalyptic vision Dr Ashenden thinks the LGBT+ community might be responsible for.

Constitutionally in Britain the Church and State are one in the personage of the monarch. If you bring down the Church of England, it is a direct attack on the monarch and would hit right at the heart of what it means to be British and to live in our democracy. (No wonder Dr Ashenden had to resign as a Queen’s Chaplain in January!)

You may not like the Royal family, you may think that government is overly-bureaucratic, you may view the Church an irrelevance, but they are all interlinked in a centuries-old system of checks and balances that enables debate to happen and the oldest modern democracy in the world to survive. It’s not perfect, but look around at some of the alternative ways of being governed and I know where I prefer to live.

The most dangerous people to the British way of life are not amorphous groups, like the LGBT+ community, but those fringe fundamentalists who are so blinded by their hate of others that they will not talk, will not debate, will not conciliate and, crucially, will not listen to others.

Dr Ashenden’s latest rant is nothing new, as a member of the LGBT+ community, I’ve heard it all before, but please do not be taken in by his posture as defender of our country’s values.

I want to reassure those who still adhere to the Christian principle of agape (the highest form of love – charity) that the LGBT+ community know that the majority of you do not agree with Dr Ashenden’s extreme views. I also want to reassure the LGBT+ community that Dr Ashenden is in no way representative of the majority of Christians that I have met or, for that matter, people of other faiths.

In an ironic twist, the history of the Church of England’s support for the LGBT+ community is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it is as old as Dr Ashenden, so he knew the score when he was ordained as a CofE minister. The Wolfenden committee was set up in 1954 (the year Dr Ashenden was born) with the participation and backing of many in the Church who were concerned at the injustice and inhumane treatment of gay men at that time.

Fifty years on from the decriminalisation of homosexuality that started with the Wolfenden committee, I would like to let the Church of England community know that, at a time when your existence is threatened by those that would do you harm, I stand with you as do many, many members of the LGBT+ community.