Equality snoopers to keep files on your sexuality

Daily Mail
05.12.2009
By James Slack

People will be routinely asked to answer sensitive questions about their sexuality so a Government quango can compile a massive ‘equalities’ database, it emerged last night.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is to take information given in confidence by millions and place it on a huge ‘Lifestyle Database’.

It will draw information from sources including visits to A&E departments, government surveys and the reporting of crimes to police.

In order for bureaucrats to measure whether gay or straight citizens are suffering greater ‘inequality’, the EHRC said everybody should be asked to provide information about their sexual identity.

They will be asked if they are heterosexual/straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual or other.

Campaigners said the establishment of the ‘Big Brother’ database - which will be available on the quango’s website - would alarm the public.

Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This intrusive database is being built without even the smallest consideration for privacy.

‘When people go to hospital, they don’t think that information about their illness is going to be shared with the EHRC.

What possible right does the EHRC have to build this database, and then share what they’ve gathered with other people on their website?’

Details of the plan emerged after the EHRC, led by chairman Trevor Phillips, began the tendering process for establishing the database.

Freedom of Information requests, obtained by the Old Holborn blogger, then revealed what the scheme involved.

Equalities bosses have decided they must work out whether citizens are suffering inequality based upon various different factors.

These include age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief, transgender status, ethnicity and social class. Citizens’ characteristics will be checked through their answers to various government surveys and information on whether they need hospital care or have called the police.

It will allow bureaucrats to check different groups are not more likely to die young, be murdered, suffer illness, or violent crime.

Staff are planning to take data which is given to a list of 45 different sources by members of the public.

This includes their A&E records, the British Crime Survey, the British Election Study, the Census, Childcare and Early Years Parents’ Survey and the Citizenship Survey.

The information is not provided in the knowledge it will be handed over to an equality quango.

But the EHRC’s report on the way the database should be established says the sexual identity question should become a standard part of major surveys ‘as soon as practicable’.

Full article

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