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Religious Civil & Discrimination Law
On the 1st October 2010 the majority of the provisions of The Equality Act 2010 came into force. The details are contained in Statutory Instrument 2010 No. 2317. The 2010 Act unifies all Anti-discrimination legislation and therefore replaces all the anti-discrimination legislation mentioned below. In theory new Act does not change the law but merely consolidates it into one statute however we shall have to see what happens in practice
Section 10 of the new Act defines Religion and Belief as follows
(1)Religion means any religion and a reference to religion includes a reference to a lack of religion.
(2)Belief means any religious or philosophical belief and a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief.
(3)In relation to the protected characteristic of religion or belief—
(a)a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person of a particular religion or belief;
(b)a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons who are of the same religion or belief.
LAW PRE OCTOBER 1st 2010
Since 1975 it has been illegal to discriminate on the basis of another persons Race or Sex.
Sex Discrimination Act 1975
Race Relations Act 1976
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
These Anti-discrimination laws have applied both to employment and to the provision of goods and services. There has however been no similar legislation preventing discrimination on the grounds of Religion.
On the 2nd December 2003 The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 were brought into force and apply to behaviour FROM that date. These regulations are discussed in more detail in the Employment section of this site.
On 30th April 2007 Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006 came into force. This legislation makes it illegal for individuals or organisations to discriminate on the grounds of Religion or Belief in the supply of goods and services. The Government has also produced Guidance on (Religion & Belief Discrimination in Goods and Services)
Section 44 defines Religion or Belief as follows
(a) “religion” means any religion,
(b) “belief” means any religious or philosophical belief,
(c) a reference to religion includes a reference to lack of religion, and
(d) a reference to belief includes a reference to lack of belief.
This is a definition that is broad enough to cover atheism, “mainstream” religions and also cranks, cults, Satanists, warlocks and believers in the second coming of Elvis.
The Government has published explanatory notes to explain the purpose behind the Act; and the subject is also covered in some detail in my book Religious Discrimination and Hatred Law
Legal Advice and Representation, Training
Contact NEIL ADDISON at Religion Law