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Key Definitions

The following information further defines the protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010.

Age refers to a person belonging to a particular age (e.g. 32 year olds) or range of ages (e.g. 18 - 30 year olds).

A person has a disability if s/he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Gender reassignment
Gender reassignment is the process of transitioning from one gender to another.

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 unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.

Race refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins.

Religion and belief
Religion has the meaning usually given to it but belief includes 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 refers to whether a person is a man or a woman.

Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation refers to whether a person’s sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes.


Taken from Equality and Human Rights Commission on 20 March 2014