The Scottish Just Law Centre aims to reduce discrimination and disadvantage in Scotland by helping people use equalities and human rights law as an effective tool for social change.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful in the UK to treat someone less favourably than others because they have a ‘protected characteristic’ – this is known as discrimination.
The protected characteristics in the Act are:
- Gender reassignment (trans identity)
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Race (including traveller ethnicity)
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
Examples of unlawful discriminatory treatment include:
- the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) making it very difficult for someone with learning disabilities to claim Universal Credit, because the process is all online or by telephone, when paper claims (and other correspondence) would be easier for them to manage;
- a local authority making it impossible for a disabled person with traveller heritage to take respite breaks in a campervan, because it has a policy that social care payments can never be used for vehicles;
- the Home Office making transgender people out themselves each time they need to verify their immigration status, by basing their EU Settlement Scheme digital status upon their passport from their country of origin, which cannot be changed to reflect their lived identity because there is no legal gender recognition process there;
- a further education college classifying an ESOL course as non-fundable by way of a bursary, when students on other comparable courses can be paid a bursary; and
- a university failing to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled student, such as extra exam time, meaning they don’t qualify, and their career prospects are limited.
The Human Rights Act 1998 (the Act) came into force in 2000. It requires public authorities and those carrying out public services to respect and protect our human rights in everything they do.
The Act covers the following human rights:
- Right to life
- Prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment
- Prohibition of slavery and forced labour
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to a fair trial
- No punishment without law
- Right to respect for private and family life
- Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
- Freedom of expression
- Freedom of assembly and association
- Right to marry
- Prohibition of discrimination (in relation to any of the other rights)
- Protection of property
- Right to education
- Right to free elections
For more information see our factsheet on Human Rights Act claims.
Often, discriminatory treatment and human rights breaches don’t just affect one person – they often stem from a policy or practice that affects numerous people. Taking legal action can therefore benefit many people, by getting a policy changed or a practice improved or stopped.
Our Scottish Just Law Centre therefore focuses on strategic public interest discrimination and human rights case work, with the aim of bringing about wide-scale positive social change.
Get in Touch
If you work in an organisation that represents individuals, or you are a frontline adviser or support worker, you can make a referral to us on behalf of a client or service user who has experienced discrimination or a breach of their human rights in Scotland.
If you are an individual member of the public who has experienced discrimination or a breach of human rights in Scotland, we may be able to direct you to sources of information or assistance and if this might be helpful you can also complete one of our online forms:
We are funded by: