Westgate Academy

Learning and Growing Together

Protected Characteristics


What are Protected Characteristics?

Protected characteristics are aspects of a person’s identity that are protected under the Equality Act 2010. This law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone based on these characteristics, helping to promote a fairer and more equal society. The nine protected characteristics are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation



A person belonging to a particular age (for example 32 year olds) or range of ages (for example 18 to 30 year olds).



A person has a disability if she or 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 sex to another.


Marriage and civil partnership

Marriage is a union between a man and a woman or between a same-sex couple. 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).


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.



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


Religion and belief

Religion refers to any religion, including a lack of religion. Belief refers to any religious or philosophical belief and includes a lack of belief. 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 to both sexes.

Protected Characteristics in our curriculum

Protected characteristics

The Equality Act 2010 protects us all by making it against the law to discriminate or harass someone because of a protected characteristic. We all have more than one of the nine protected characteristics. This short film explains what they are.