Commission welcomes landmark equality legislation

Equality Bill receives Royal Assent

08 April 2010

The Equality and Human Rights Commission today welcomed the passing of the Equality Bill, which received Royal Assent today. It contains a series of measures for tackling inequalities which the Commission considers will help Britain to become a fairer society.

Some of the specific measures in the bill, which the Commission has supported, include:

  • Making the law easier to understand and implement by simplifying 116 pieces of equality legislation into a single Act for individuals, public authorities and private organisations.
  • Giving people the right not to be treated less favourably by public authorities because of their age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or transgender status; as well as their disability, gender, or race which were already covered.*
  • Extending anti-age discrimination rules to include goods, facilities and services, thereby stopping people being unfairly refused insurance or medical treatments based on what age they are, for example.

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Commission said:

“Simplifying legislation and extending protection to a wide range of groups that face discrimination will help Britain become a fairer society, improve public services, and help business perform well.

“The Commission’s role now is to make sure the legislation works in practice, by explaining what it means, how it should work, and ultimately, using our powers to help right any wrongs.

“We’re already working on Codes and Guidance that set out what the new legislation does for employers, public services and the people of Britain.”  

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For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818.

For general enquiries please contact the Commission’s national helpline: England 0845 604 6610, Scotland 0845 604 5510 or Wales 0845 604 8810.

Notes to Editors

* The protected characteristics in the Public Sector Equality Duty are listed in the Equality Bill as: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

Information about the Equality Bill can be found in the legislative framework section of our website

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.  It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain.  It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.  The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act.  It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.