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Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 (c 15) is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and fulfils a manifesto commitment of the Labour Party in the 2005 General election. In addition, the 2010 Act removes many of the legal protections returned to transgender people in possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate, including access to services provided to only one sex (e.g. rape crisis centres) and the introduction of “Genuine Occupational Qualifications” allowing for discrimination against transsexual people.

The primary purpose of the Act is to codify the complicated and numerous array of Acts and Regulations, which formed the basis of anti-discrimination law in Great Britain. This was, primarily, the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and three major statutory instruments protecting discrimination in employment on grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.

This legislation has the same goals as the US Civil Rights Act 1964 and four major EU Equal Treatment Directives, whose provisions it mirrors and implements. It requires equal treatment in access to employment as well as private and public services, regardless of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, belief and age. In the case of gender, there are special protections for pregnant women. In the case of disability, employers and service providers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to their workplaces to overcome barriers experienced by disabled people. In this regard, the Equality Act 2010 did not change the law.

Under s.217, with limited exceptions the Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.


  • Part 1 Socio-economic inequalities
  • Part 2 Equality: key concepts
  • Chapter 1 Protected characteristics
    • age,
    • disability,
    • gender reassignment,
    • marriage or civil partnership,
    • race,
    • religion or belief,
    • sex,
    • sexual orientation
  • Chapter 2 Prohibited conduct
    • s 13 direct discrimination,
    • s 14 discrimination arising from disability,
    • s 15 gender reassignment discrimination: cases of absence from work,
    • s 16 pregnancy and maternity discrimination: non-work cases,
    • s 17 pregnancy and maternity discrimination: work cases,
    • s 18 indirect discrimination; Adjustments for disabled persons:
    • s 19 duty to make adjustments,
    • s 20 failure to comply with duty,
    • s 21 regulations,
    • s 22 comparison by reference to circumstances,
    • s 23 references to particular strands of discrimination,
    • s 24 harassment,
    • s 25 victimisation
  • Part 3 Services and public functions
  • Part 4 Premises
  • Part 5 Work
  • Chapter 1 Employment, etc.
    • Employees:
      • s 36 Employees and applicants,
      • s 37 Employees and applicants: harassment,
      • s 38 contract workers;
    • Police officers:
      • s 39 identity of employer,
      • s 40 interpretation; Partners:
      • s 41, partnerships,
      • s 42 limited liability partnerships,
      • s 43 interpretation;
    • The Bar:
      • s 44 barristers,
      • s 45 advocates;
    • Office holders:
      • s 46 personal offices,
      • s 47 public offices: appointments, etc,
      • s 48 public offices: recommendations for appointments, etc.,
      • s 49 interpretation and exceptions;
    • Qualifications:
      • s 50 qualification bodies,
      • s 51 interpretation;
    • Employment services:
      • s 52 employment service providers,
      • s 53 interpretation;
    • Trade organisations:
      • s 54 trade organisations;
    • Local authority members:
    • s 55 official business of members,
    • s 56 interpretation
  • Chapter 2 Occupational pension schemes
    • s 57 Non-discrimination rule,
    • s 58 Communications
  • Chapter 3 Equality of terms
    • Sex equality:
      • s 59 Relevant types of work,
      • s 60 Equal work,
      • s 61 Sex equality clause,
      • s 62 Sex equality rule,
      • s 63 Sex equality rule: consequential alteration of schemes,
      • s 64 Defence of material factor,
      • s 65 Exclusion of sex discrimination provisions,
      • s 66 Sex discrimination in relation to contractual pay;
    • Pregnancy and maternity equality:
      • s 67 Relevant types of work,
      • s 68 Maternity equality clause,
      • s 69 Maternity equality clause: pay,
      • s 70 Maternity equality rule,
      • s 71 Exclusion of pregnancy and maternity discrimination provisions;
    • Disclosure of information:
      • s 72 Discussions with colleagues,
      • s 73 Gender pay gap information;
    • Supplementary:
      • s 74 Colleagues,
      • s 75 Interpretation and exceptions
  • Chapter 4 Supplementary
    • s 76 Ships and hovercraft,
    • s 77 Offshore work,
    • s 78 Interpretation and exceptions
  • Part 6 Education
    • Chapter 1 Schools
    • Chapter 2 Further and higher education
    • Chapter 3 General qualifications bodies
    • Chapter 4 Miscellaneous
  • Part 7 Associations
  • Part 8 Prohibited conduct: ancillary
  • Part 9 Enforcement
    • Chapter 1 Introductory
    • Chapter 2 Civil courts
    • Chapter 3 Employment tribunals
    • Chapter 4 Equality of terms
    • Chapter 5 Miscellaneous
  • Part 10 Contracts, etc.
  • Part 11 Advancement of equality
    • Chapter 1 Public sector equality duty
    • Chapter 2 Positive action
  • Part 12 Disabled persons: transport
    • Chapter 1 Taxis etc.
    • Chapter 2 Public service vehicles
    • Chapter 3 Rail vehicles
    • Chapter 4 Supplementary
  • Part 13 Disability: miscellaneous<ref>s 182, reasonable adjustments; s 183 improvements to let dwelling houses</ref>
  • Part 14 General exceptions<ref>statutory provisions, national security, charities, sport, general, age</ref>
  • Part 15 General and miscellaneous


Bishop opposition

Although the Act was never going to change the law from its existing position, or binding European Union law which covers many more Catholics than in the UK, and this position was spelled out in the High Court in R (Amicus) v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, a small number of Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales made claims that they could be prosecuted under the Equality Act 2010 for refusing to allow married men, women, transsexual people and practising gay people into the priesthood. English, Welsh bishops say Equality Bill redefines who can be priest.

The legislation has also attracted criticism from local Anglican clergy.<ref>UK Government attacked over Equality Bill. This claim has been rejected by the government. A spokesman has said an exemption “covers ministers of religion such as Catholic priests” and a “Myth Busting” document released by the Government Equalities Office states that that “the Equality Bill will not change the existing legal position regarding churches and employment”.

In the case of Ministers of Religion and other jobs which exist to promote and represent religion, the Bill recognises that a church may need to impose requirements regarding sexual orientation, sex, marriage and civil partnership or gender reassignment if it is necessary to comply with its teachings or the strongly held beliefs of followers. However, it would not be right to permit such requirements across all jobs within organised religions, such as administrators and accountants, and the Equality Bill makes this clear.

Re-introduction of Trans Discrimination

It has been noted that due to a ‘get-out’ for discrimination against trans people to be permissable under certain circumstances, it would be possible for anyone to be discriminated against provided the organisation or person doing the discriminating can claim that they thought the person was trans regardless of whether that person is actually transgendered or not.


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