The law provides protection against discrimination or harassment. There will also be anti-discrimination policies in your place of learning or workplace. Know your rights - and your responsibilities.
A woman in a wheelchair sits at an office desk

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, discrimination is the eighth most common problem people would like advice on.

Discrimination or harassment of anyone because of their sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability is against the law.

The law protects you from discrimination, but also requires you not to discriminate against others. Your place of learning or workplace will have policies to support this.

Sex, sexual orientation, gender status & sexuality

Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 it is unlawful to:

  • treat one sex more favourably than the other in work, training, education, adverts, housing, and providing goods and services
  • discriminate against a transsexual person in work or vocational training

Since 2003 it has been illegal for employers to discriminate against someone because of their sexuality. Workers are protected from direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment.

Outside of the workplace the law does not cover discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation but you may be able to use the law on human rights.

Race & religion

Attacks on someone because of their racial or ethnic origin or their religion or lack of religion are unlawful. Attacks can be physical, or involve damage to your home or property, subject you to verbal abuse or written abuse like texting, and abusive slogans painted on a wall or building. If this is happening to you, get legal advice.


Disabled people have a legal right to help and services from their local authority to access all educational buildings and new buildings suited to their needs.

You can request that your local council finds out what adaptations you need at home. If they agree that you need any services it is their statutory duty to provide them. Find out more about the support available.

You have a right to be educated in mainstream schools with appropriate support and equipment. Find out how to access educational support through the Council.

Experience: ‘I'm visually impaired and my advice to anybody with a disability is to know your rights. You have to go out and find these things. The best way is to join a support group. There are groups for nearly every problem. I'm a member of Look, which helps young people who are visually impaired. I've had lots of problems at school. I wasn't allowed to do a geography A-level and they tried to limit me to two A levels. If you know you can do something you really have to push for it. Look came and made a good case, saying I needed everything on tape and proper help. They have expert knowledge so they can put forward a good argument. They helped convince the Education Authority and I managed to do 3 A2 levels and get into university. — Katherine, 18

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