2. What are the equality duties?
The Equality Act 2010 replaced all existing equality legislation so that there is now just one Act. Section 149 of the Equality Act requires all public sector organisations to meet general and specific public sector duties.
The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination on the basis of the following nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage & civil partnership, pregnancy & maternity, race, religion & belief, sex and sexual orientation.
The Act contains an integrated Public Sector Equality Duty, which requires all public bodies and private bodies that deliver a public function, to consider the needs of protected groups when designing and delivering services.
Under the Act, the council must have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and
- Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
Having due regard for advancing equality involves:
- Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to protected characteristics.
- Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people.
- Encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.
- Tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between different communities.