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Right to Receive Equal Treatment

The United Kingdom (UK) has specific legislation on equality that outlaws discrimination and provides a mechanism for individuals to lodge complaints with the courts when they experience unlawful discrimination.

The UK now has legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation and transgender status, disability and age.

Discrimination on any of these grounds is prohibited in the employment sphere. Discrimination on some of these grounds is prohibited in other spheres, such as education, housing, the provision of goods and services and by public authorities. The operation of these different pieces of legislation is dealt with in detail below.

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), which incorporates the rights contained in the European Convention of Human Rights (the Convention) into UK law, is also relevant in challenging discrimination, as Article 14 of the Convention prohibits discrimination on very wide range of grounds, which sex, race and religion, but also cover political opinion, economic or social status, as well as ‘any other status’.

The legislation also created equality bodies which had a statutory duty to combat discrimination and promote equality. These bodies were the Commission for Racial Equality, who dealt with race discrimination, the Equal Opportunities Commission, who dealt with Sex Discrimination, and the Disability Rights Commission who dealt with disability discrimination. These bodies have now been merged into one unified body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which not only deals with all forms of discrimination and in addition has responsibilities to promote human rights.

This chapter will look at how discrimination legislation works.

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