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The Law

In the UK, the main law dealing with racial discriminatipon is the Race Relations Act 1976, which was recently amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

This section details the amended Act and explains how the European Union's Article 13 proposals will impact the UK.


Your Rights

The Race Relations Act 1976 makes it illegal to treat a person less favourably than others on racial grounds. These cover grounds of race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), and national or ethnic origin.

In practice, most racial discrimination in Britain is against people from ethnic minorities, but people of every background, race, colour and nationality are protected by the law. People are also protected in cases where the racial grounds refer to the race, colour or ethnic origin of someone else; for example, if a white person is refused entry because they are with someone from a different racial group.

If you think you have been discriminated against on racial grounds, the amended Act gives you the right to take your complaint before an employment tribunal or a county court (or sheriff court in Scotland).

What is racial discrimination?

The Race Relations Act is concerned with people's actions and the effects of their actions, not their opinions or beliefs. Racial discrimination is not the same as racial prejudice. It is not necessary to prove that the other person intended to discriminate against you: you only have to show that you received less favourable treatment as a result of what they did.

To bring a case under the Race Relations Act, you have to show you have been discriminated against in one or more ways that are unlawful under the amended Act.

Direct racial discrimination

This occurs when you are able to show that you have been treated less favourably on racial grounds than others in similar circumstances. To prove this, it will help if you can give an example of someone from a different racial group who, in similar circumstances, has been treated more favourably than you. Racist abuse and harassment are forms of direct discrimination.

Indirect racial discrimination

This occurs when you or people from your racial group are less likely to be able to comply with a requirement or condition, and the requirement cannot be justified on non-racial grounds. For example, a rule that employees or pupils must not wear headgear could exclude Sikh men and boys who wear a turban, Jewish men or boys who wear a yarmulka or Pakistani women and girls who wear a hijaab (headscarf), in accordance with practice within their racial group.


This has a special legal meaning in the Race Relations Act. It occurs if you are treated less favourably because you have complained about racial discrimination or supported someone else who has




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News and Events

UK Asian population report
     - Introduction
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Your rights

- Your Rights
- Am I Protected
- Are racial harassment, abuse and violence covered?
- Article 13
Key features of the Package
Chances to UK legislation
- The Action Programme


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