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Discrimination Act

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If you think you have been treated unfairly or have been discriminated against because of your age, gender, race, religious beliefs or disability, there's a wide range of legislation, information and contacts to help you understand and enforce your rights.
A number of Commissions have been established to uphold the rights of individuals and tackle instances of discrimination.
Also, Community Legal Advice has produced a comprehensive leaflet that provides detailed guidance of your rights, and under which legislation you can challenge discrimination.
Equal Opportunities Commission
The Equal Opportunities Commission is the government agency responsible for eliminating sex and other discrimination in Britain. Their website has a wide range of expert advice for individuals and employers and provides up-to-the-minute practical guidance and legal information.

If you have been unfairly treated at work or by anyone providing a service - and you believe it's because you're a woman, or because you're a man - there is a free and confidential helpline.
Gender Equality Duty
The Gender Equality Duty came into force in April 2007. All public authorities must demonstrate that they are promoting equality for women and men, and eliminating sexual discrimination and harassment. The legal responsibility means public authorities need to demonstrate that they treat men and women fairly.

The duty affects policy making, public services, such as transport, and employment practices such as recruitment and flexible working.
Gender recognition
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 came into effect in April 2005. It gives transsexual people legal recognition in their acquired gender, subject to their successful application to the Gender Recognition Panel.
Transsexual people will be able to marry in their acquired gender when the change of gender is legally recognised.

The Gender Recognition Panel has a website containing information and advice for transsexual people who wish to apply for gender recognition.
The Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended by the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000) protects individuals from racial discrimination and harassment and creates a right to challenge discrimination in the courts or at an employment tribunal.

The Act also makes racial discrimination by public bodies and organisations illegal and requires them to have policies to promote racial equality.

Commission for Racial Equality (CRE)
The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is a publicly funded, non-governmental body set up under the Race Relations Act 1976 to tackle racial discrimination and promote racial equality.

They provide information and advice to people who think they have suffered racial discrimination or harassment and work with public bodies, businesses, and organisations from all sectors to promote policies and practices that will help to ensure equal treatment for all. The CRE also runs campaigns to raise awareness of race issues, and makes sure that all new laws take full account of the Race Relations Act and the protection it gives against discrimination.
The 'Disabled people' section of Directgov provides information on rights under the Disability Discrimination Act, definitions of 'disability' and on general rights of access to goods and services.

Disability Rights Commission (DRC)
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is an independent body established in April 2000 by Act of Parliament to stop discrimination and promote equality of opportunity for disabled people.

The DRC gives advice and information to disabled people, employers and service providers and supports disabled people in getting their rights under the law. The DRC supports legal cases to test the limits of the law and provides an independent conciliation service for disabled people and service providers.
Information about age discrimination legislation is contained in the Employee section of Directgov and the over 50s section.

From October 2006, there is legal protection against age discrimination. It is no longer lawful to discriminate on grounds of age. Treating staff fairly and recognising individuals' talents and needs is not just the right thing to do, but makes good business sense as well.
Find out about your rights to be treated fairly at work in the employees section of Directgov. There is information on what discrimination means due to age, sex, race, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation, as well as what can be done about it.
From October 2007 a new organisation, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), will bring together expertise and resources to promote equality and tackle discrimination in relation to gender, gender reassignment, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age, race and promote human rights. The new CEHR will take on the work of the three existing Commissions, the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

The Commission will cover England, Scotland and Wales. In Scotland and Wales there will be statutory committees responsible for the work of the CEHR.