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The Equality Act was introduced into British Law to ensure protection for individuals against discrimination and to give businesses and employers greater clarity about their responsibilities.

The Equality Act was introduced into British Law to ensure protection for individuals against discrimination and to give businesses and employers greater clarity about their responsibilities.

The Act has defined characteristics which are covered by the legislation and these are as follows:


Bringing proceedings under the Act


Giving evidence or information in connection with proceedings brought under the Act

Gender Reassignment

The Act views gender reassignment as being a personal, rather than medical process, which means that an individual does not need to be in consultation with anyone in the medical profession about their choice to live in another gender role in order to be protected. The only requirement is that they at least propose to undergo gender reassignment even if the process is not completed. Where an individual has a gender recognition certificate they must be treated according to their acquired gender.

Marriage and Civil Partnership

Marriage covers any formal union of a man and a woman which is legally recognised in the UK as marriage and a civil partnership refers to those registered under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, including those registered outside the UK.

Pregnancy and Maternity

It has been deemed unlawful for an employer to treat a woman less favourably during the protected period when she is pregnant or on Maternity Leave.


To include colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. For the purposes of the legislation an ethnic group can include members new to the group, for instance by marriage and, by the same token, an individual can also leave the group.

Religion or Belief

The Act refers to any religion or any religious or philosophical belief or any lack thereof e.g. Christians are protected because of their Christianity and non Christians are protected because they are not Christians. The Act states that it is for the courts to decide what constitutes a religion.


Refers to a male or female of any age; the comparator for determining discrimination will be a person of the opposite sex.

Sexual Orientation

  • This refers to a person’s sexual orientation towards:
  • Persons of the same sex (gay man or lesbian)
  • Persons of the opposite sex (heterosexual)
  • Persons of either sex (bisexual)

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