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What is the Equality Act 2010?


The Equality Act 2010 is an Act of Parliament which forms the basis of anti-discrimination law in Great Britain. The Act is a consolidation of 16 pre-existing pieces of anti-discrimination legislation. It applies to everyone in Great Britain and guards against discrimination based on nine protected characteristics.

How DOES the Equality Act 2010 work?
Protected characteristics

There are nine protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010. It is illegal to discriminate against someone because of one of these characteristics. They are:

  • Age

  • Disability

  • Gender reassignment

  • Marriage and civil partnership

  • Pregnancy and maternity

  • Race

  • Religion or belief

  • Sex

  • Sexual Orientation


The Equality Act 2010 protects you from discrimination in the following places:

  • At work

  • In locations where services are being provided

  • In commercial and residential premises

  • In educational settings

  • In associations eg political parties, youth clubs


The Equality Act 2010 prohibits the following discriminatory behaviours:

  • Direct discrimination: when an employer, service provider, educator etc. knowingly subjects an individual to unfavourable treatment because of one of the nine protected characteristics.

  • Indirect discrimination: when an employer, service provider, educator etc. inadvertently disadvantages an individual because of one of the nine protected characteristics by making a seemingly neutral provision.

  • Harassment: unwanted conduct related to one of the protected characteristics that, violates dignity or creates an intimidating environment.



If you think you have been subject to discrimination, you have a number of options available to you.​ 


The Citizens Advice Bureau is a good source of information and advice. It will be able to provide you with more information about your options and advise you on appropriate next steps.

Help improve the Equality Act 2010


If you have experienced discrimination but are not protected by the Equality Act 2010, please get in touch to tell us your story. Your contributions could help to inform our research and reports. Alternatively, you are very welcome to take part in our public consultation.


Let us know how the Equality Act 2010 could be improved and have your voice heard.

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