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Discriminatory Abuse and the Equality Act

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The Equality Act 2010: Safeguarding Against Discriminatory Abuse

The Equality Act, implemented in 2010, ensures legal protection against discrimination, harassment and victimisation, be it in the workplace or in the scope of public services. This includes healthcare, transport, retail, dining, and entertainment venues, as well as dealings with public bodies such as local councils or government departments. Everyone has the right to equal treatment and the liberty to express and practise their beliefs and values. Discriminatory abuse takes place when an individual is targeted or treated unfairly owing to their distinct attributes. This abuse can take multiple forms, characterised by attitudes, sentiments or behaviours that discriminate against an individual.

Manifestations of Discriminatory Abuse

Discriminatory abuse can be exhibited in many ways, such as:

  • Unequal treatment: This may be based on race, gender, religion or belief, age, pregnancy, marital status, sexuality, sex or disability.
  • Verbal abuse: The use of inappropriate language, slurs, harassment, and deliberate exclusion.
  • Denials of rights: This could mean preventing someone from adhering to their spiritual or cultural beliefs.
  • Disrespect of beliefs: Failure to respect and accommodate a person's religious and cultural needs.
  • Exposure to offensive material: Exposure to racist graffiti or material, including magazines and leaflets, particularly within the home of the vulnerable person.
  • Lack of disability adjustments: Failure to make necessary alterations for someone with a disability.

Indicators of Discriminatory Abuse

Indicators of discriminatory abuse may include:

  • Lack of choice, privacy and dignity: A scarcity of personal belongings, the use of punishment, such as withholding food and drink.
  • Social isolation: Tendencies towards withdrawal and isolation, manifestations of anger, frustration, fear and anxiety.
  • Accessibility issues: Absence of disability-friendly access.
  • Service denial: Unjustifiable refusal of access to a service or inappropriate exclusion.

The Equality Act's Mandate

The Equality Act requires public bodies, including councils, hospitals and publicly funded service providers, to consider how their decisions and policies impact individuals with protected characteristics. They are also required to provide evidence demonstrating their compliance with this mandate.