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The Equality Act became law in 2010 and legally protects people from discrimination, harassment, and victimisation, whether in the workplace or when using public services such as healthcare, when using transport, in shops restaurants, and cinemas, and when in contact with public bodies such as councils or government departments.

Everyone has the right to be treated equally and express and practice their beliefs and values. Discriminatory abuse is when someone picks on you or treats you unfairly because something about you is different.  Examples of discriminatory abuse may take the form of other types of abuse, the difference is that the abuse is motivated by discriminatory attitudes, feelings, or behaviour towards an individual.

Discriminatory abuse can include:

  • Unequal treatment due to race, gender, religion or belief, age, pregnancy and maternity, sexuality, sex or disability
  • Verbal abuse, inappropriate language, slurs, harassment, and deliberate exclusion
  • Denial of basic human and civil rights for example by not allowing a person to follow his or her own spiritual or cultural beliefs
  • Failure to meet and take into account the religious and cultural needs of an individual
  • Racist graffiti or bringing racist material, including magazine and leaflets into a vulnerable person's home
  • Failing to make reasonable adjustments for someone with a disability.

Indicators of discriminatory abuse may include:

  • A lack of choice, privacy, and dignity
  • A lack of personal belongings
  • The use of punishment to a person for example by withholding food and drink from them
  • A tendency for withdrawal and isolation
  • An expression of anger, frustration or fear and anxiety
  • A lack of disabled access
  • Being refused access to services or being excluded inappropriately.

Under The Equality Act, public bodies such as councils, hospitals, and publicly-funded service providers have to consider how any decisions they make and the policies they put into place affect people with different protected characteristics, they are also required to provide evidence to demonstrate that they have done so.