At the moment, there are several different laws to protect people from discrimination on grounds of: • race • sex • sexual orientation (whether being lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual) • disability (or because of something connected with their disability) • religion or belief • being a transsexual person (transsexuality is where someone has changed, is changing or has proposed changing their sex – called ‘gender reassignment’ in law) • having just had a baby or being pregnant • being married or in a civil partnership (this applies only at work or if someone is being trained for work), and • age (this applies only at work or if someone is being trained for work). The Equality Act 2010 simplifies the current laws and puts them all together in one piece of legislation. Also, it makes the law stronger in some areas. So depending on your circumstances, the new Act may protect you more. Most of the Equality Act will start to apply in October 2010 and this guide covers the main changes coming into effect then. The Act also contains other changes. For example, if you’re over 18, the Act contains a new law to protect you from discrimination because of your age when you shop or use facilities like swimming pools or libraries. The Government is looking at how the rest of the Act can be implemented in the best way for business. It will make an announcement about this at a later stage. 2 Get advice about the dates when the new law comes in from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or look on the Citizens Advice website at: www.adviceguide.org.uk. In this factsheet, we tell you about some of the most important points in the Equality Act. However, this factsheet doesn’t cover all your rights. Get advice if you think you’re being discriminated against, even if we don’t cover your situation here. Get advice about all aspects of discrimination law from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or look on the Citizens Advice website at: www.adviceguide.org.uk. This factsheet applies to people in England, Wales and Scotland.
Simplifying the law
At the moment it’s against the law to discriminate against you because of things like race or religion. Different laws cover these different issues. Until the new law comes into force, the old laws will still apply. When the new law comes in, all the law about discrimination will be in one place: the Equality Act 2010. You’ll still be protected from things like racial or religious discrimination, as the new law will take over from the old laws.
If you’re disabled
If you’re discriminated against because you’re disabled, the new law could help you. For example, there will be a slightly different test of what ‘disability’ means. When the new law comes in, it will be easier for someone to show that they have difficulty carrying out their day-to-day activities, and therefore that they come under the definition of ‘disabled person’ and are protected under the Act.
Where the law has been made stronger
Here are the main areas where the law has been made stronger from October 2010. Remember that not all the changes in the Equality Act will start at the same time. So if you think you might be covered by the new law, you’ll need to get advice about whether it has come in to force yet. Get advice about whether the law has come in to force yet from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or look on the Citizens Advice website at: www.adviceguide.org.uk.
Example You suffer from depression, so it’s very hard for you to make decisions or even to get up in the morning. You’re forgetful and you can’t plan ahead. Together, these factors make it difficult for you to carry out day-to-day activities. You’ve had several linked periods of depression over the last two years and the effects of the depression are long-term. So, for the purposes of the Equality Act, you’re defined as a ‘disabled person’.