We now talk about equality in terms of people's "protected characteristics".  While it is important not to put people into boxes, the law has meant that we need to look at equality in terms of certain headings.

The Equality Act 2010 makes your rights not to be discriminated against stronger. Discrimination means treating someone worse than other people because of who they are. The groups of people who have the right not be discriminated against have also been extended. People who belong to these groups have what are called protected characteristics. It doesn't matter whether any of these characteristics apply to you, or the people in your life. If you are treated worse because someone thinks you belong to a group of people with protected characteristics, this is discrimination. The Act also protects you if people in your life, such as family members, friends or co-workers have a protected characteristic and you are treated less favourably because of your association with that person. For example, you are discriminated against because your son is gay.

The Protected Characteristics are:-

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marriage and civil partnership (for some aspects of the duty only in respect of the requirement to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination)

Welsh Language

The Welsh language is not part of the Equality Act 2010, as it is covered by its own specific legislation, namely Welsh Language Act 1993 and Welsh Language Measure 2011, but it is not less important.   Please find the Welsh Language Page for further information (available shortly).

In Ceredigion there is a particular need to have regard to the Welsh Language, and there is a  considerable tie-in between the council’s wider approach to equalities and diversity and the commitment the council has towards the Welsh Language – and especially the need to ensure that people can use the language of their choice (Welsh or English) when dealing with the council.  The requirements to Assess for Impact in relation to the nine characteristics identified in the Equality Act 2010, applies equally to the Welsh Language.


Where this is referred to, it refers to a person belonging to a particular age (e.g. 32 year olds) or range of ages (e.g. 18 – 30 year olds)


A person has a disability if she/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.

Gender Reassignment

The process of transitioning from one gender to another.

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.


It refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins.

Religion or belief

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


A man or a woman

Sexual orientation

Whether a person’s sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or both sexes.

Marriage and civil partnership

In Wales marriage is no longer restricted to a union between a man and a woman but now includes a marriage between a same-sex couple. 

Same-sex couples can also have their relationships legally recognised as ‘civil partnerships’.