Genetic discrimination

Picture thanks to MIT Biology

‘Sapiens, a brief history of mankind’ is such an interesting book. I have just finished listening to Yuval Noah Harari’s work, through an audiobook on my longer driving journeys. It has made me think very hard about what it means to be human and has challenged a lot of my assumptions. I plan to listen to it all again once I have had time to digest what I have heard. There is a lot that I have missed.

One of the many interesting concepts that came out of the book for me was that of genetic discrimination. The news is filled these days with hate crimes and decisions people have made based upon race or skin tone. Indeed it would seem to be open season for such actions, spurred on by the strange political times in which we find ourselves.

When the law tries to address discrimination, it does so against a series of characteristics, such as sex, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, mental illness or ability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity and expression. All of these are determined by genetics and luck. You cannot, as yet, determine where you are born or the characteristics that you will be given. These are determined, unwittingly, by your parents and the location you were lucky enough to be born in. You cannot load your genetic dice. It is fate that decides the things by which you will be discriminated.

It may also be true that some of the other considerations covered by anti-discrimination law such as religion, creed, or individual political opinions are equally dependent upon your upbringing and so have a large genetic basis. Most people’s opinions are formed based upon their circumstances in their early years, again something that they have very little sway over.

Genetic discrimination is a term that covers all unfair and therefore illegal discrimination. The law should protect people from discrimination based upon things over which they have no control. This may be a lot more than we are prepared to acknowledge.

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