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Equality Bill [HL]


Make provision making it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age, gender reassignment, religion or belief or sexual orientation; to make new provision with respect to discrimination on the grounds of disability, race or sex; to make provision making it unlawful to harass or victimise another person on any of those grounds; to make provision facilitating progress towards the achievement of equality as between persons of certain descriptions; to establish and provide for the functions of the Equality Commission for Great Britain; and for connected purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—



1      Purpose of Act

(1)    The purpose of this Act is to facilitate both the promotion of equality and the elimination of unfair discrimination so as to ensure that persons do not suffer detriment or are not denied opportunities or benefits for reasons related to one or more of the following grounds—
(a)    age;
(b)    colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins;
(c)    disability;
(d)    family status;
(e)    gender reassignment;
(f)    marital status;
(g)    pregnancy;
(h)    religion or belief;
(i)    sex;
(j)    sexual orientation.
(2)    Accordingly—
(a)    Part 2 of this Act makes it unlawful for any person to engage in certain kinds of behaviour towards others (in particular discrimination, harassment or victimisation);
(b)    Part 3 of this Act imposes requirements on public bodies, employers and other persons to take measures with a view to making progress towards achieving the goals of the promotion of equality of opportunity, the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of good relations between members of different racial groups;
(c)    Part 4 of this Act establishes the Equality Commission for Great Britain and confers on it functions relating to the implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this Act; and
(d)    Part 5 of this Act provides for conciliation, references to a tribunal and other measures to secure that the provisions of this Act are observed.

2      General principles

(1)    Any provision of this Act must be given effect to in accordance with the following general principles—
(a)    this Act is not to be construed as permitting or requiring any step that seeks to remove or reduce inequality, or to eliminate discrimination, by levelling down;
(b)    that, in appropriate circumstances, promoting equality may require more than treating different individuals in the same way as each other or may require the accommodation of difference;
(c)    that the need to take steps to correct conditions of disadvantage which arise from discrimination on any of the prohibited grounds may require the taking of special measures of general application (for example, the adoption of practices that encourage participation in certain activities, the improvement of access to opportunities or benefits or the modification or abandonment of practices that restrict or impair such participation or access).
(2)    The following general principles also apply in giving effect to any provision of Part 2—
(a)    that any protection conferred by Part 2 which is limited by any restriction, qualification or exclusion must be applied, in any particular case, so the restriction, qualification or exclusion is not given a wider effect than is strictly necessary in all the circumstances; and
(b)    that where an act is done or course of conduct is entered into for two or more reasons, and one of those reasons relates to a prohibited ground (whether or not it is the dominant or substantial reason for the act), the act or conduct is to be treated for the purposes of Part 2 as being done for the reason relating to the prohibited ground or, if there are two or more such grounds, both or all of them.
(3)    Nothing in subsection (l)(a) prevents the taking of any step for which provision is made in Part 3 of this Act or in an exclusion from a protected area of activity in Schedule 6.
(4)    “Levelling down” includes—
(a)    reducing the level of opportunities or benefits enjoyed by any person or by any description of persons; and
(b)    subjecting any person or persons to a detriment to which another person, or description of persons, is already subject.

3      Exclusivity of remedies under this Act

(1)    Any contravention of a provision of this Act is to be dealt with in the manner described in it.
(2)    No other proceedings, whether civil or criminal, lie against any person by reason of any such contravention.
(3)    But nothing in this section prevents the making of an application for judicial review.

4      Interpretation

(1)    In this Act—
  “Commission” means the Equality Commission for Great Britain established by Part 4;
  “disabled person” means a person who has a disability or who has had a disability;
  “man” includes a male of any age;
  “prohibited grounds” means the grounds specified in section 1(1)(a) to (j);
  “racial group” means any group of persons identified by reference to their colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins;
  “religion or belief” means any religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief (including agnosticism, atheism and humanism);
  “sexual orientation” means an orientation towards—
(a)    persons of the same sex;
(b)    persons of the opposite sex; or
(c)    persons of the same sex or the opposite sex; and
  “woman” includes a female of any age.
(2)    For the purposes of this Act, references to an act done by a person (“A”) for a reason related to a prohibited ground (however expressed) include any case where the reason in question—
(a)    is based on a belief of A's that is misconceived; or
(b)    arises in connection with one person (“B”) but the act is done in relation to another (“C”) on account of C's association with B.
(3)    For the purposes of this Act, a person has a disability if he has a physical or mental impairment which has substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
(4)    Schedule 1 contains further provision as to when a person has, or is to be taken as having, a disability.
(5)    The Secretary of State may by order—
(a)    amend Schedule 1 by varying, or removing, any provision or by adding further provision; and
(b)    make provision for the modification of any provisions of this Act as they apply to persons who have had a disability.
(6)    For the purposes of this Act, a person who is a member of any Roma, gypsy or Irish traveller community is to be treated as a member of a group defined by reference to colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins.






5      Unlawful acts, remedies and interpretation of Chapter 1

(1)    This Chapter—
(a)    defines discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
(b)    specifies them as acts made unlawful when done in a protected area of activity; and
(c)    specifies certain other connected acts as being unlawful.
(2)    An allegation that a person has done an unlawful act may be the subject of—
(a)    a complaint to a tribunal made by or on behalf of an individual in accordance with section 7; or
(b)    an application to a tribunal made by the Commission in accordance with section 61.
(3)    In this Chapter—
  “act” includes a deliberate omission;
  “discrimination” means any act that is unlawful under section 9;
  “harassment” means any act that is unlawful under section 12;
  “protected area of activity” has the meaning given in section 6; and
  “victimisation” means any act that is unlawful under section 13.

6      Protected areas of activity

(1)    The protected areas of activity in which discrimination, harassment and victimisation are made unlawful by this Chapter are—
(a)    the carrying out by a public authority of its functions;
(b)    the affording of opportunities, or the making of decisions or arrangements, in the employment field by any person concerned with the provision of work;
(c)    the affording of opportunities, or the making of decisions or arrangements, in the education field—
(i)    by the body responsible for an educational establishment; or
(ii)    by any person providing facilities or services in connection with the operation of an educational establishment;
(d)    the provision (whether on payment or without payment) by any person of goods, facilities or services which he provides, or is prepared to provide, to members of the public or a section of the public;
(e)    the disposal or management of any premises by a person who has power to dispose of, or manage, them;
(f)    the management by any person of a members club.
(2)    Schedule 2 makes provision supplementing this section.
(3)    For the purposes of this Chapter—
(a)    if an act would (apart from this subsection) otherwise fall within paragraph (a) of subsection (1), it is to be treated as not doing so if it also falls within any of paragraphs (b) to (f) of that subsection;
(b)    if an act would (apart from this subsection) otherwise fall within paragraph (d) of subsection (1), it is to be treated as not doing so if it also falls within paragraph (c) of that subsection.

7      Power to make complaints concerning contraventions of this Part

(1)    A person to whom subsection (2) applies may present to a tribunal a complaint alleging that a person has done—
(a)    an act that amounts to discrimination, harassment or victimisation; or
(b)    an act that is made unlawful by section 15, 16 or 17.
(2)    This subsection applies—
(a)    to any individual who claims that he is the victim of the act complained of;
(b)    to the parent of the alleged victim (as well as to the alleged victim); and
(c)    to any person or body (whether or not incorporated) which acts on behalf of the alleged victim of the act complained of and which falls within subsection (3) or (4).
(3)    A person or body falls within this subsection if it is an independent trade union (within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (c. 52)).
(4)    A person or body falls within this subsection if—
(a)    it has as one of its purposes the protection of the collective interests of persons (such as employees, consumers, transport users, patients or parents of school-age children) whose interests in any protected area of activity are protected by the provisions of this Part; and
(b)    it is designated by order made by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this section.
(5)    A complaint under this section may be made against—
(a)    the person alleged to have done the act complained of; or
(b)    any person who, by virtue of section 17 or 19, is to be treated as having done the act complained of.
(6)    No complaint may be made under this section if it concerns a matter in respect of which a complaint may be made under section 72.
(7)    Any person or body considering whether to make a complaint under this section may, for that purpose, make use of questionnaires drawn up by the Commission under section 46 and may apply to the Commission for assistance under section 47.
(8)    A complaint under this section is to be determined in accordance with Part 5 of this Act.

8      Time limits for bringing complaints

(1)    A complaint under section 7 must be made before the end of the period of six months beginning with—
(a)    the date on which the act complained of was done; or
(b)    in a case in which subsection (2) applies, the date on which the individual who is alleged to have been the victim of the act complained of discovered the concealment or could with reasonable diligence have discovered it.
(2)    This subsection applies where—
(a)    any fact relevant to the alleged victim was deliberately concealed from him by the person alleged to have done the unlawful act; and
(b)    the alleged victim did not discover the concealment (or could not with reasonable diligence have discovered it) until after the act was done.
(3)    For the purposes of subsection (1)—
(a)    where the act complained of is attributable to a term in a contract, that act is to be treated as extending throughout the duration of the contract;
(b)    any act extending over a period is to be treated as done at the end of that period; and
(c)    a deliberate omission is to be treated as done when the person in question decided upon it.
(4)    For the purposes of subsection (3)(c), a person is (in the absence of evidence establishing the contrary) to be taken to decide upon an omission—
(a)    when he carries out an act inconsistent with the omitted act; or
(b)    if he has carried out no such inconsistent act, when the period expires within which he might reasonably have expected to carry out the omitted act if it was to be carried out.

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Prepared 16 January 2003