The Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1 October 2010, and brings with it over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act.
Together they make up a new Act that provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. The Act extends protection to nine protected characteristics which are:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civic partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief (or lack of religion or belief)
- Sexual orientation
The Act also introduced a single Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) which came into force on 6 April 2011.
This states that everything a public body does, must have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this act
- advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it
- foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it