This week, this piece in The Guardian caught my eye as such a simple and brazen breach of human rights law. The article is about British landlord Fergus Wilson who has discriminated against ‘coloured’ tenants occupying his properties.
My first thought that occurred as I was reading this article is that it would be useful and interesting to delve into exactly what rights we have in terms of human rights law in this country. I’m under the impression that we have pretty good human rights protection here in the UK, but I must say I cannot be sure on the details of these laws. The article mentioned the ‘Equality and Human Rights Commission’ which is a public body that operated in England and Wales. I visited their site to see exactly what laws protect us here in the UK.
From looking at their website, I have discovered that The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms into domestic British law. This convention is one of four human rights declarations we have been looking at in class. I was curious to locate exactly what section of UK human rights law Fergus Wilson has violated with his discriminatory behaviour.
“Article 14 requires that all of the rights and freedoms set out in the Act must be protected and applied without discrimination”
Article 14 of the European convention covers protection from discrimination in all areas of life, which would in this case include racial discrimination in the case of housing. This landlord’s dispute is one of the most obvious cases of a human rights breech I’ve seen in the UK in a long time. Although I’m aware that human rights violations occur all the time, they do not seem to occur as often in more developed countries such as the UK, as our human rights laws and prosecution process are a lot stronger than in less developed states. It amazes me that Mr Wilson still possesses backwards attitudes that would have even been considered outrageous 20 years ago. I’m obviously extremely pleased with the court ruling, although I feel that a stricter outcome would have been more suitable. There’s nothing stopping him from continuing his discriminatory attitudes when selecting tenants for his properties, he just may be a little more subtle next time.