The Equality Act 2010 brings together nine separate pieces of legislation into one single Act, simplifying the law and strengthening it to help tackle discrimination and inequality. Most of the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 came into effect on 1 October 2010, and the Public Sector Equality Duty has been in force since 5 April 2011.
The Public Sector Equality Duty replaced previous equality duties for race, disability and sex, and covers the following protected characteristics:
- Race (including ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality)
- Religion or belief (and lack of belief)
- Sexual orientation
- Gender reassignment
- Pregnancy and maternity
The duty also covers marriage and civil partnership, but not for all aspects of the duty.
The Public Sector Equality Duty requires the Council and other public bodies to have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not share it
- foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.