Everyone has the right to be treated fairly, without discrimination. The Race Relations Act 1976, as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, makes it unlawful to discriminate against anyone on grounds of race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), or ethnic or national origin. The amended Act also imposes general duties on many public authorities to promote racial equality.
It applies to:
- The provision of goods, facilities and services.
It is also unlawful for public bodies to discriminate while carrying out any of their functions. And the amended Act imposes a general duty on all major public bodies to promote equality of opportunity and good race relations.
Racist incidents ranging from criminal harassment and abuse to physical violence are offences under the criminal law. Inciting racial hatred is also a criminal offence.
Publishing and disseminating materials such as leaflets and newspapers that are likely to incite racial hatred is also a criminal offence.
If anyone has a complaint with respect to any of these criminal matters they should be reported to the police.
The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE)
The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is a publicly funded, non-governmental body set up under the Race Relations Act 1976 to tackle racial discrimination and promote racial equality.
The CRE has statutory powers under the amended Race Relations Act. These include powers to:
- Advise or assist people with complaints about racial discrimination, harassment or abuse
- Conduct formal investigations of companies and organisations where there is evidence of possible discrimination; if the investigation does find discrimination, the CRE can oblige the organisation to change the way it operates
- Take legal action against racially discriminatory advertisements, and against organisations that attempt to pressurise or instruct others to discriminate – such as employers instructing employment agencies not to send them applicants from ethnic minorities, or companies instructing their workers to discriminate in the way they provide goods or services
- Assist individuals in taking legal action to challenge the decisions of public bodies, including their compliance to the general duty
Remember, it’s important to know your rights up front to give you confidence and so that people know they can not take advantage of you.
Picking on someone because of their skin colour, ethnicity or religion is racist bullying and, like all bullying, is wrong. Whether it’s name calling or physical attacks, racist bullying can be very damaging.
What makes racist bullying different from other types of bullying is that, instead of attacking the victim as an individual, they are attacked as the representative of a family, community or group, so other members of the same group, family or community are made to feel threatened and intimidated as well.
You don’t have to have a different skin colour from the bullies to experience racist bullying. You might experience racist bullying simply because you are from a different country or have a different religion, accent, culture or way of dressing from the bullies.
As well as distracting you from your education if you’re being picked on, racist bullying in schools might make you think that racism is a normal and acceptable part of life. It isn’t, and no one should have to put up with being picked on or discriminated against because of their skin colour, ethnicity or religion.
Most schools, colleges and workplaces have anti-bullying policies which specifically cover racist bullying and the Race Relations Act 1976 states that schools and governing bodies have a duty to ensure that students do not face any form of racial discrimination, including attacks and harassment.
If you are being picked on because of your skin colour, ethnicity or religion, speak to someone at your school, college or workplace that you trust; don’t feel like you have to suffer in silence.
Who can help?
If you feel that you have been treated unfairly because of your race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), or ethnic or national origin, you can contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
If you have seen any form of advertising that you found racially offensive you can make your complaint heard by contacting the Advertising Standards Authority website at www.asa.org.uk.