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Devolve equality law to protect care experienced young people

Devolve equality law to protect care experienced young people

Equality law should be devolved to Scotland to help protect children and young people in care from discrimination, campaigners have argued.

Duncan Dunlop from Who Cares? Scotland says the charity has made a submission to the Smith Commission calling for Scotland to have the power to classify protected characteristics.

“There is no way that you can have the level of poor indicators of outcomes for life chances that the care population has without them being discriminated and stigmatised. But that still isn’t a devolved power so we are really keen for protected characteristics to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament,” says Dunlop.

"We could then say, now it is in the statute book, that all legislation, all activity, all employment has to put this front and centre.”

By way of example, he says:

“When you are opening a residential house for children, say, three children in your community, you are not changing the appearance of the building, you still have to go to the community council for a change of use permission, which then goes out to community consultation. And time and time again that community block it. By God, they block it. And they do it very publicly as though this is OK.”

The perception is that these are “bad kids”, he says, and so further work is needed to educate the public.

“Most children in care have suffered an early life trauma, and normally that is a significant family member has died and therefore the family is proven to be unsustainable, chaotic and so they have had to enter the care system. Our public just doesn’t know this, I’m certain.

“But the point is if there was equalities legislation, they should never be allowed to do that. You couldn’t do it for a women’s refuge, you couldn’t do it because you had gay or disabled people moving in. But we can still do this for the most vulnerable and marginalised group in our society.”

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