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Celebrating 10 years of the Equality Act

Published: 01 October 2020 Tags: By LGBT Foundation

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the Equality Act 2010. Over this time we have seen how incredibly important this Act is, it has both prevented discrimination and also ensured that people who have faced discrimination have been able to seek justice and compensation.

The Equality Act legally protects people with protected characteristics from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. The protected characteristics are age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race and religion or belief. So, for example, if someone is not hired for a job on the basis of their race the employer would be in breach of the Equality Act and would be breaking the law.

How has the Equality Act protected LGBT people?

Over the last 10 year the Act has provided a huge amount of protection to LGBT people, sexual orientation and gender reassignment are protected characteristics, so all LGBT people are protected under the Act.

Additionally after years of uncertainty as to whether the Equality Act protects non-binary people, a recent landmark ruling against Jaguar Land Rover confirmed that non-binary and gender fluid people fall under the protected characteristic of gender reassignment and are therefore protected. Rose Taylor, a gender fluid/non-binary engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, had faced insults and abuse based on her gender presentation. The judge ruled that “gender is a spectrum” and they were “beyond any doubt” that Taylor was protected by the Equality Act.

Another example of where an LGBT person has been protected by the Equality Act is the 2018 case of McMahon v Redwood. It was ruled that Mrs McMahon, who had been told by her boss in her first week to not tell other employees that she was gay, had been directly discriminated against because of her sexual orientation which was a breach of the Equality Act.

The Equality Act does not just protect people from employment discrimination, for example in 2010 a same gender couple won their case against the Chymorvah Private Hotel, who had told the couple that they could not share a double room because they were a gay couple. The judge ruled that the hotel had discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and the couple were awarded £1,800 each.

These are just three examples of the many incidences where LGBT people have been protected by the Equality Act, it should also be noted that the Equality Act will have prevented a significant amount of discrimination from happening in the first place. Although more needs to be done to make it easier and safer for people to come forwards when they have faced discrimination and we have a long way to go before discrimination is eliminated from society, the Equality Act has ensured that hugely positive progress has been made over the last 10 years.