Equality and Diversity

Protected Characteristics

The Nine Protected Characteristics

The nine protected characteristics are a series of classifications, as defined by the Equality Act (2010), which act as grounds where discrimination towards anyone within the groups, upon the basis of a protected characteristic is unlawful.

Age: Where this is referred to, it refers to a person belonging to a particular age (e.g. 32 years old) or a range of ages (e.g. 18-30 years old, 55-64 years old etc.)

Disability:  A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment which has substantial and long term adverse effects on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Long term means twelve months or more. It includes conditions for example as severe disfigurement, MS, cancer and HIV.

Gender reassignment: The process of transforming from one gender to another. A person who is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone gender reassignment (the process of changing physiological or other attributes of sex, therefore changing male to female, or female to male)

Marriage and civil partnership: A marriage may be defined as the legal union of a couple as spouses.  A marriage can only occur if the parties are legally able to marry each other, the union is consensual and is contracted by law.  A civil partnership is a legally recognized union of a same-sex couple

Pregnancy and maternity: Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman favorably because she is breast feeding. 

Race: It refers to an individual or group of people by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic origins or national origins. A Minister may determine that caste discrimination is also covered by the Equality Act (2010)

Religion and belief: Religion has the meaning given to it but belief includes the religious and philosophical beliefs including lack of belief (e.g. atheism). Generally, a belief should affect your life choices or the way you live for it to be included in the definition.

Sex: A man or a woman.

Sexual orientation: whether a person’s sexual attraction is towards their own sex (gay or lesbian), the opposite sex (heterosexual/straight) or both sexes (bisexual)