The most important change of last year came on 6 April 2007 when the public sector gender duty was introduced. This duty, on similar lines to the race and disability duties that had been implemented in previous years, requires public bodies when carrying out their functions to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful sex discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity between men and women. In addition, certain public authorities had until 30 April 2007 to publish a gender equality scheme. The nature and extent of the gender duty is already being re-considered as part of the discrimination law review which will, in due course, result in a single equality Act. At present it looks likely that the three existing duties will be replaced with one overarching duty, which may be a little less prescriptive.
Other amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA) were due to have been made at the end of 2007 in order to reflect a successful judicial review application brought by the Equal Opportunities Commission against the Government. The high court ruled that, despite being amended extensively in 2005, the SDA still did not fully comply with EU law. The Government is likely to bring forward the necessary amendments, which mainly relate to the definition of harassment and the provisions dealing with pregnancy-related discrimination, in the first half of 2008.