Discrimination Law Review

The Government is holding a consultation on its Discrimination Law Review. The deadline for the consultation is 4th September 2007.

Genetic discrimination is discussed on pages 132 to 134 of the consultation document. People are asked: "Do you agree that there is no current justification for legislating to prohibit genetic predisposition discrimination?"

GeneWatch UK disagrees. We think there should be legislation to prevent genetic discrimination and this should cover the use of individual genetic test results by both insurers and employers.

If you feel strongly that insurers and employers should not be allowed to use genetic test results, please respond to the consultation. You can answer this single question in just a few minutes by sending an email to: Kate.Hepher@communities.gsi.gov.uk

GeneWatch UK believes that legislation to prevent genetic discrimination is important because:

  1. People should be able to make the difficult decision about taking a predictive genetic test on health grounds alone, without the fear that it could affect their access to healthcare, the housing market, employment, pensions or travel insurance in the future.
  2. Most members of the public are opposed to insurers using genetic test results. They feel it is unfair to discriminate against people for something they cannot do anything about. There are also widespread concerns from trade unions and some scientists that genetic screening and selection of workers could become a damaging alternative to reducing workplace hazards, or be used to try to cut employers' pension or insurance costs.
  3. The public has been promised that genetic research will bring benefits, not harm, to the people at highest genetic risk. Volunteers donating samples to genetic research are likely to feel misled if the results are used to discriminate against the people that they are trying to help.
  4. Legislation would resolve the current uncertainty in which people do not know whether genetic tests taken now, or developed in the future, will one day be used to discriminate against themselves or others.
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