Is There a Duty to Legislate for Linguistic Minorities?

Robert Douglas Dunbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In April 2005, the Scottish Parliament passed the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, requiring certain public bodies in Scotland to provide some services through the medium of Gaelic. This Act was modelled to a certain degree on similar legislation for Welsh, the Welsh Language Act 1993. Both Welsh and Gaelic, and to a lesser extent Irish in Northern Ireland, benefit from a range of other measures of legislative support. Many other languages are, however, spoken in the United Kingdom, and their speakers have needs and expectations. In this article, the extent to which a state is obliged to legislate for these is assessed. Fundamental principles such as the right to freedom from discrimination, equal protection of the law, substantive equality, and the protection and promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity may argue for legislative intervention and support, and the provision of such support to linguistic minorities must itself be non-discriminatory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-198
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number1
Early online date7 Feb 2006
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


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