Equality and Diversity

1. Overview

The Equality Act 2010, which provides the basic framework of protection from discrimination, victimisation and harassment, came into force from 1 October 2010.

The Act replaces all existing anti-discrimination laws (such as the Disability Discrimination Act 1995), and extends protection across a number of ‘protected characteristics’. These are:

  • race
  • sex
  • disability
  • age
  • sexual orientation
  • religion or belief
  • gender reassignment
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • marriage or civil partnership

The Act applies across services and public functions; premises; work; education; associations; and transport provision.

From 5 April 2011 the public sector equality duty came into force. This contains the general duty (which replaces the previous race, gender, and disability duties) and requires local authorities (and other public sector bodies) to it to have due regard to the need to:

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • advance equality of opportunity between different groups
  • foster good relations between different groups

For more detailed information on the Equality Act and the public sector equality duty, further guidance is available on the Government Equalities Office and Equality and Human Rights Commission websites.