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Discuss the view that all legal approaches to reducing inequalities are fundamentally flawed.

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Introduction

Discuss the view that all legal approaches to reducing inequalities are fundamentally flawed. In today's society it is assumed that everyone has the right to equal opportunities. These equal opportunities include equal access to public services, to job opportunities and income, the freedom of access and movement, the right to be free from harassment and equal access to means of determining equal access, in other words who gets what, who is excluded and who is not, basically the right to vote. It can be hard to determine what equal is, does it mean we all get the same treatment or at least we should do or is equality associated more with what matches our needs? It's a difficult question to answer, as we have to then delve into who decides our needs for us. Who is equality for? Ideally everyone. Most equality issues deal with the same sets of people, those who are disadvantaged in some way in society, whether individually or collectively as a group. Some disadvantaged groups are, Black and minority ethnic groups, young males, women, gay and lesbian people, faith groups, older people and those with disabilities. ...read more.

Middle

Disabled people have also experienced inequality in society for centuries; sometimes people's attitudes have totally dismissed the rights of disabled people, at times to the point at which individuals have decided that those with disabilities are abnormal or a burden on society's resources. As far back as medieval Germany, disabled people were experiencing these unfair attitudes. It was in medieval Germany that Martin Luther permitted the killing of disabled babies as 'incarnations of the devil'. Centuries later, Hitler attempted to rid Germany of disabled people under his fascist regime; according to him they were 'imperfections which contaminate the genetic stream'. Although society has moved on, we cannot stop these kinds of opinions. One of the most important pieces of disability legislation is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The act covered physical disabilities, learning difficulties and mental illness. Today, a lot of institutions have been made to make changes in order to accommodate disabled people, disabled toilets, ramps for disabled access, special computer programmes for the blind, deaf, dyslexic, etc. However, not all institutes can afford to make changes unless given government help. Others simply choose not too. Edge hill has a water tight equal opportunities policy and yet they put disabled parking outside a building which cannot be accessed by a wheelchair. ...read more.

Conclusion

Certain individuals will always discriminate. Article 13 came out of the treaty of Amsterdam and includes three measures to combat discrimination, an employment directive, a race directive and an action programme. Article 13 created statutory commissions involving full investigation, codes of practice, guidance and support at tribunals. This is one of the most significant pieces of legislation; however, it cannot be monitored properly. What people say they will do and what they actually do are often two very different things. Some argue that Britain needs just one single equality act. Lord Lester (2001) believes one single act is needed. But, will having one single act make inequality disappear? No. The law may be able to punish those who step out of line but it cannot change people's attitudes. In fact as far as punishment goes, there is no imprisonment for those not following equality legislation, so how can it truly be enforced? Society is too complex, people are rigid in the way they work, and change takes time. Some don't believe in equality, after all, inequality can be seen as a natural occurrence. Since time began, someone or something has always been inferior/superior. Laws and policies can only try to control inequality but they will never combat it, it has existed throughout time and will continue to do so. ...read more.

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