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Coronavirus and the rise of racial discrimination

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It has been noted in recent news articles regarding the Coronavirus outbreak that there has been an increase in race discrimination in the UK.

One news article published by The Guardian referred to an account of one student living in Manchester who had reported racist comments having been made to him and to his friends on public transport, in education and on the street. Further reports have stated that this is not limited to one city and that it is thought that a growing number of xenophobic and racist incidents relating to the Coronavirus outbreak are being reported all over the world.

In February 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Guardian, Michelle Bachelet is reported to have called on the nations to combat the rise in discrimination, which has seemingly been triggered by the outbreak. It is understood that Ms Bachelet told the Human Rights Council that the epidemic has “set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against the people of Chinese and East Asian ethnicity”.

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects individuals in the UK from discrimination, in the workplace, and in wider society. This includes when you are at work, in education, as a consumer, when using public services, when buying or renting a property, or as a member of a private club or association. In the UK, it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of:

  • Age
  • Gender reassignment
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • disability
  • Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

If you feel that you may have been subjected to such discrimination, in any of the contexts highlighted above, you can contact our specialist discrimination and employment team on 0161 696 6229.

By Kasey Hamer, employment and discrimination advisor