The definition of discrimination

AuthorVickers, Lucy
2.1 Grounds of unlawful discrimination explicitly covered
The following grounds of discrimination are explicitly prohibi ted in the main legislation
(listed in the In troduction section, the main legislation transposing and implementing the
directives) transposing the two EU anti-discrimination directives :
sex (incl. gender reassignment, married/ civilly partnered status/ preg nancy)
nationality (including citizenship)
ethnic origins
national origins
sexual orientation
religion or belief
NI (in addition to the grounds above)
belonging to the Irish Traveller community
political belief
2.1.1 Definition of the grounds of unlawful discrimination withi n the directives
a) Racial or ethnic origin
The term racial origin is not used in UK legislation. The RRO (art. 5(1)) (NI) provides that
‘“racial grounds means any of t he following grounds, namely colour, race, nationality
(including citizenship), ethnic and national origins.
The EqA provides (Section 9) that race includes colour, na tionality and ethnic or national
origin and that, A racial group is a group of persons defined by reference t o race; and a
reference to a person’s racial group is a reference to a racial group into which the pers on
falls. There is no definition in statute or case law of racial origin; since the first Race
Relations Act8 (RRA) in 1965 it has been clear that, as in Recital (6) of the Race Directive,
the term has never been used to imply an acceptance of any theories regarding separat e
human races.
Section 9 EqA, as amended, r equired the Government to introduce secondary legislation
to make caste an aspect of race, thus making caste discrimination a form of race
discrimination. Following the Employment App eal Tribunal case in which it was accepted
that discrimination on the basis of caste could fall within discrimination on the basis of
ethnic origin,9 the Government decided in 2018 to repeal the amendment to the Equality
Act 2010, thereby removing the obligation to introduce specific protection for caste
Nationality is protected as part of the protection against race discrimination under Section
9 Equality Act 2010. ‘National origins’ is broader than citizenship and can cover
8 Race Relations Act 1965, 08.11.1995, available at:
9 Employment Appeal Tribunal, Chandhok v Tirkey [2015] IRLR 195 19.12.2014, available at:

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