Protected Groups

Protected Groups

Below is information on each of the Protected Characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

Marriage and Civil Partnership

Marriage is no longer restricted to a union between a man and a woman but now includes a marriage between a same-sex couple. [1]

Same-sex couples can also have their relationships legally recognised as 'civil partnerships'. Civil partners must not be treated less favourably than married couples (except where permitted by the Equality Act).

[1] Section 1, Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.

Abertay policy guidance:

Personal Relationships at Work - Code of Conduct

Useful links:

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.

Abertay policy guidance:

Useful links:

Religion or Belief

Religion has the meaning usually given to it but belief includes religious and philosophical beliefs including lack of belief (such as Atheism). Generally, a belief should affect your life choices or the way you live for it to be included in the definition.

Faith and Belief

Useful links:


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.

Disability Employee Support

Access and Disability for Students

Abertay policy guidance:

Useful links:


The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against workers, employees, job seekers and trainees (including students) because of their age.

Useful links:


Race is a protected characteristic that refers to an individual's race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) and ethnic or national origins. Racial discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another in a similar situation because of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status.

Useful links:

Abertay Race EqualityCharter

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic relating to a person's sexual orientation towards people of:

  • The same sex as him or her (the person is a gay man or a lesbian)
  • The opposite sex from him or her (the person is heterosexual)
  • Both sexes (the person is bisexual)

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination that is direct or indirect and whether it is based on a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Useful links:

Gender Reassignment

A person is protected from gender reassignment discrimination by the Equality Act 2010 if:

“the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex”.

It is important to note that a person does not need to have undergone any specific treatment or surgery to change from their birth sex to their preferred gender because changing your physiological or other gender attributes is a personal process rather than a medical one. A person can be at any stage in the transition process – from proposing to reassign their gender, to undergoing a process to reassign their gender, or having completed it.

The university is committed to provide support and understanding to individuals who wish to take, or have taken, steps to present themselves in a gender different to their birth gender. We recognise that this can be a complex and difficult time for an individual and have policies and practices in place to ease and support an individual throughout any transitional period. We also fully recognise our legal responsibility to protect the rights of transgender people and to ensure that no individual is subject to discrimination as a result of the gender in which they present themselves. You can contact Diane Norris, HR and OD Partner, at, in confidence, for advice or assistance.

Transgender Staff Guidance

Gender Equality Plan

Useful links:

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