The new Equality Act became law from the 1st October 2010. The act replaces most of the previous discrimination legislation.
The objective of the act is promoting equality for all by preventing discrimination under several protected characteristics Age, Disability, Gender Reassignment, Marriage and Civil Partnership, Pregnancy and Maternity, Race, Religion or Belief, Sex and Sexual Orientation. The Act applies to the provision of services as well as employment.
The Equality & Human Rights Commission issued a Press Release on the 1st October. "Commission statement on the implementation of the Equality Act 2010"
The majority of the Equality Act 2010 comes into force today, bringing together existing equality law into one place so that it is easier to understand and extending protection to some groups so that they are treated more fairly.
The Commission’s role, given to it by Parliament, is to help people understand equality law and to enforce it.
The new law protects everyone in Britain to some extent as people have several of the characteristics it covers, namely age, race, religion and belief, sex (meaning gender) and sexual orientation; and some people also have the protected characteristics of disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.
Under the Act people are not allowed to discriminate, harass or victimise another person because they belong to a group that the Act protects, are thought to belong to one of those groups or are associated with someone who does.
Helen Hughes, interim Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “It’s more than just an Act. Simplifying equality legislation and extending protection to a wide range of groups that face discrimination will help Britain become a fairer society, improve public services, and help business perform well.
“For example, banning the use of pre-employment questionnaires under the new Equality Act could make it easier for veterans who have been recently disabled in the line of duty to get work; and protecting young mums from discrimination in school or college could mean they finish their education rather than drop out.
“It is also a reminder that treating people fairly protects organisations from costly discrimination claims.”
Detailed guidance to the new Equality Act is being rolled out by the Commission. The Commission is producing statutory guidance (“Codes of Practice”) for legal professionals and can be referred to in legal cases; and other guidance (“non-statutory guidance”) aimed at people who want to know how the law applies in different settings.
Source: The Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Who are a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.
The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.
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