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A man playing for Village Spartans - an LGBTQ+ rugby club - passes the ball

The Equality Act (2010) sets out the legal requirements that every private, public, or voluntary organisation must adhere to, to ensure that people are treated equally and not discriminated against because of a particular characteristic. 

The Act is in place to ensure equal opportunities for all, including those who participate or work and/or volunteer in a sport or physical activity setting.

The Act encourages community organisations to recognise the challenges faced by people with different protected characteristics (features or attributes of a person which should not be used to treat them less favourably), in order to develop a more inclusive and accessible organisation.

Community organisations by law are required to make adjustments to practices, policies and procedures so that everyone can access their offer. 

Who is protected? 

Under the Act, discrimination, or unfair treatment of someone because of a particular characteristic is against the law. There are nine protected characteristics, which are: 

  • Disability 
  • Age 
  • Religion or belief 
  • Gender reassignment 
  • Marriage or civil partnership 
  • Pregnancy and maternity 
  • Race 
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Sex.

It is the duty of community organisations to consider how they can make their offer, services and any facilities as accessible as possible to every individual regardless of these nine characteristics. 

Types of discrimination

It’s important to understand the different types of discrimination, and be aware of what to look out for, when addressing instances of discrimination and adhering to the laws set out within the Act.

There are multiple forms of discrimination, including: 

Direct discrimination
When an individual is treated differently or put at a disadvantage because of a particularly characteristic or a perception of a particular characteristic.
Indirect discrimination
If a policy, practice or procedure that applies to everyone equally puts someone at a disadvantage due to their protected characteristic.
Relates to unwanted behaviour or causing offence relating to a protected characteristic.
When someone is treated differently or placed at a disadvantage because they have previously complained about discrimination.
Discrimination by association
Being treated differently due to a protected characteristic of someone you are associated with.
Failure to make reasonable adjustments
Where an organisation does not make reasonable adjustments to their services, offer or facilities to enable those with different protected characteristics to access opportunities.

What does the act mean for community organisations?

It's important for all community organisations, regardless of their size, to understand and apply the Act in their practices.

There are a number of practices that an organisation could implement to help them avoid discriminating against a person from a protected characteristic group, including: 

  • Ensuring that accessibility and inclusivity is embedded into their values and culture
  • Having an equal opportunities and inclusion policy in place. Everyone at the organisation should be aware of the policy and adhere to this. 
  • Providing equality and diversity training and guidance for members of their workforce, to ensure they understand the principles and be comfortable in responding to queries or issues. 
  • Treating people fairly, not identically. Organisations are encouraged to think about how they can include people, rather than focusing on potential barriers. Where possible reasonable adjustments should be made to an offer and facilities to accommodate an individual’s needs. A common-sense approach to considering what is reasonable should be taken. 
  • Consulting with any new people to discuss additional needs as part of an induction so that adjustments can be implemented, as required, as early as possible. 
  • Reporting processes to deal with an incident or act of discrimination. Organisations have a responsibility to deal with any allegations objectively. Organisations should seek further support or legal advice to help manage as required.