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Marriage and civil partnership discrimination


The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination and victimisation relating to the protected characteristic of ‘marriage or civil partnership’.

The individual must be able to show that they have been treated less favourably or subjected to a particular disadvantage because they are married or a civil partner.

This protection does not extend to individuals who are:

  • living together as a couple but are not married or civil partners
  • engaged to be married or are intending to be married or enter in to a civil partnership
  • divorced or have had their civil partnership dissolved
  • a widow or widower
  • single.

Key points

  • The law prohibits less favourable treatment of individuals simply because they are married or in a civil partnership. 
  • This includes direct and indirect discrimination and victimisation. 
  • Harassment is another form of discrimination prohibited under the Equality Act, however it does not apply to marriage and civil partnership discrimination. This means that when an individual behaves in a way which is related to an individuals marriage or civil partnership and is unwanted, violates the dignity of an individual, or creates an environment which is intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive for that individual, this is not protected under the Act. 
  • For a claim of marriage or civil partnership discrimination to succeed, it must be based on the fact the individual is married or in a civil partnership, not who they are married too.