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Equality Act 2010: Fighting Discrimination in the UK

Equality Act 2010

As human beings, we often refer to ourselves as the wisest of all the earth’s beings. However, sexism, racism, and inequality suggests otherwise about Homo sapiens. For instance, a black white, brown and grey rat will all socialize, because they recognize members of the same species. All other animals socialize because of the similarities where human beings look for reasons to isolate ourselves from each other. Fortunately, people have made great strides over the past century, putting many insignificant differences aside. Though there are still issues with inequality, recent ordinances have at last attempted to rectify racial, sexual, and religious inequality in England. One such ordinance is the equality act 2010 which was intended to unify previously passed, anti-discrimination acts of Parliament.

The Equality Act 2010

This act of parliament is supposed to simplify the way the government classifies and enforces the acts associated with the anti-discrimination laws in the UK. Anti-discrimination laws are acts which have been passed by the different countries of the world. Each law is designed to prevent someone from being denied basic rights based solely upon his or her race, gender or sexual preference. In Great Britain, these laws began to surface in the 1970’s.

However, enforcing and even coding these laws has always presented certain challenges. First, there are still people who feel as though they should be permitted to discriminate. There are issues as to what penalties these individuals should face after they’ve been found out. There’s also an ongoing controversy as to exactly what constitutes discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 is basically a tool to organize the other anti-discrimination laws in the UK so they’re easier to understand and deal with. However, the original anti-discrimination laws must be properly examined before the equality act can truly be understood.

The Equal Pay Act of 1970

The first ever anti-discrimination law to be passed by British Parliament is the Equal Pay Act of 1970. This law was to prevent women from receiving different pay and different treatment from men on a job. Though this is one of the earliest examples of a modern country adopting equal pay laws, it wasn’t’ done without intervention. In 1968, the Ford sewing machine strike saw female workers walk off of the job. They were routinely paid 15% less than men even if they engaged in the same activities. The strike wouldn’t achieve all the goals it had set out to, but it did pave the way for the equal pay act of 1970. This act included not only wages but access to company perks, vacation time and other benefits. This would be the UK’s first anti-discrimination law, but it wouldn’t be the last.

The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975

The Equal Pay Act ensured women would make the same wages as men and, the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 detoured employers from neglecting to hire women based solely upon their gender. While the act technically protected men as well, males were rarely victims of discrimination at work. The Sex Discrimination Act also prevented employers from discriminating against candidates based on marital status.

The belief of many men in the UK was that were women were too weak, fragile or incompetent to perform more difficult tasks and the fairer gender wasn’t given the opportunity to prove these chauvinists differently. Married women were also frequently discriminated against for a few reasons. First off, most married women in 1975 had husbands who also worked. The belief was that a married woman would take a job from a man who needed to care for his family. Most married women also had children at home.

Sexist employers felt as though the position of housewife was far more important than the role of secondary income provider. However, Parliament passed this law in 1975 which would give female workers more opportunities. This law is a great compliment to the Equal Pay Act of 1970 because many women were having trouble getting hired for certain positions. This act not only referred to hiring practices, but the availably of training and promotions. Women were also entitled to the same level of education, because there were still institutions of higher learning that regularly discriminated against them. The act also gave the court the power to file an injunction against repeat offenders. Unfortunately, the original legislation didn’t apply to women and employers in Northern Ireland, but changes would come the following next year in the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976. 1976 would also be the year that parliament began to address racial issues in the UK.

Race Relations Act of 1976

More than 100 years after England withdrew from the slave trade; there were still people of certain ethnicities who were being denied basic rights. The race Relations Act of 1976 was designed to address these issues in virtually every aspect of modern life. This of course included employment, because most of the most coveted positions in England were filled by people of Anglo-decent. However, the race relations act of 1976 prevented discrimination in the areas of employment, public functions and access to education. The Commission for Racial Equality was also formed by the act and this division of the government was specifically responsible for enforcing the new laws.

This is a vast improvement very the race relations act of 1965, because the new provisions had an overseeing body that would ensure the new laws are observed. Now people of colour could no longer be discriminated against on the grounds of race, nationality or country of origin. This act was especially promising for people of African descent, because they were regularly treated like second-class citizens in nearly every country of the world. However, this arcane practice was being largely discontinued the world over. In the US, the civil Rights laws had been signed into effect by a president of Irish decent named John F. Kennedy. However, there was still systematic racial discrimination in their country.

There were also similar issues in the UK, but the tide of change was weeping the nation. Perhaps it was a sign of the times or humanity was evolving beyond ridiculous stereotypes and prejudices. However, there was still a group of people who regularly experienced discrimination without aid from the law.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

The disabled weren’t accounted for until nearly twenty years after other forms of discrimination were addressed by parliament. This group represents people of all different races religions and even genders, but they have a common thread. There are different levels of disability, but the entire group was once treated as though they were burdens upon society. The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 ensured the disabled had access to public transportation, public buildings, education and employment. Mostly, the act made “reasonable adjustments” that permitted those with mental and physical disabilities to live like those without them. This would represent the last leg of anti-discrimination laws in the UK for fourteen years.

The disabled, women and ethnic citizens now had protection granted by parliament, but keeping track of all these laws was quite daunting. This is why the Equality Act of 2010 was introduced to unify the efforts of previous discrimination laws.

Equality for All

Even though most forms of discrimination were addressed in the 1970’s, there was still inequality to address. One such form was that being displayed to those from the homosexual community. The new act makes provisions to protect individuals regardless of sexual preference and even protects transgender citizens of the UK from discrimination. These new laws are also designed to detour discrimination based upon religion which has always been an issue in the UK. In essence, the equalities act 2010 permits easier enforcement of existing acts, incorporating them into a single act of parliament. This act also makes provisions to protect those who were formerly subject to systematic discrimination.

The War to End All Discrimination

While people have treated each other poorly because of small differences for centuries’ one man took his hatred to formerly unseen heights. Adolph Hitler’s mission to rid the globe of Jews saw him attack an entire continent including London, England.

His attempt to eradicate an entire group of people saw the world react. However, these countries were forced to take a closer look at the way they were addressing women and minorities within their own countries. The three countries that had the most work to do were the USA, the UK and South Africa. Fortunately, the end of the twentieth century would see our country sign anti-discrimination laws, and supply economic pressure on other countries to do the same. Jim Crow in the Us and Apartheid in the South Africa are now things of the past thanks to the shining example set by British Parliament.

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