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The Equality and Human Rights Commission

Each of the discrimination Acts had established separate equality commissions:

  • Commission for Racial Equality.
  • Disability Rights Commission.
  • Equal Opportunities Commission.

These have now merged into a single equality body for Britain. The new body is called the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). With effect from October 2007, the EHRC has brought together the work of the three existing Commissions.

The EHRC has all of the powers of the existing Commissions, and is responsible for tackling all forms of discrimination and ensuring all equality laws are enforced, including the new laws dealing with discrimination on the grounds of age, religion and belief, and sexual orientation. Promotion of human rights is also included within the EHRC’s remit.

The EHRC will cover England, Scotland and Wales. In Scotland and Wales there will be statutory committees responsible for the work of the EHRC. Northern Ireland has its own equality body, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

The EHRC can:
  • Provide advice and information to individuals on all aspects of discrimination law, as well as human rights law,

  • Help individuals take discrimination cases to court, in particular where this may lead to the creation of legal precedents or to clarify and improve the law;

  • Use their statutory powers to enforce the equalities duties of organisations and authorities, including, ultimately, launching official inquiries and formal investigations;

  • Seek to influence government and the legislature to create effective legislation that protects people’s rights and helps to bring about a Britain confident in its diversity and making sure that government policy takes into consideration the importance of equality, diversity and human rights.

  • Campaign and communicate the importance of equality and human rights.

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