The Equality Act and Charities


Charity trustees who are concerned about the application of the Equality Act on their charities should note that there are exemptions to the scope of the Act which apply to charities.
The Act prohibits discrimination in the provision of services on the basis of ‘protected characteristics’.
These are:
  • Age;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Gender (or gender reassignment);
  • Disability;
  • Pregnancy and maternity;
  • Race, religion or belief; and
  • Marriage and civil partnership.
Charities can potentially fall foul of the Act if they provide services only to one sort of person (i.e. a person with a specific disability).
The exemptions apply when the charity provides its services on a restricted basis but based on a protected characteristic if:
  • The charity’s governing document contains the restriction; and
  • The restriction addresses the disadvantage that particularly affects a person with a protected characteristic; or
  • The restriction is for some other reason a proportionate way of achieving a legitimate aim.
If you are concerned about the impact of any legislation on a charity with of which you are a trustee or officer, we can advise you.

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