Legal protection against discrimination on grounds of religion or belief has a much shorter history in the UK than comparable laws relating to race, disability and gender. Up until the turn of the millennium religious groups – notably Sikhs and Jews – had to seek protections under race relations legislation. Since then, acts in 2003, 2006 and 2001 have increased the level of protection but, as Linda Woodhead has observed, ‘research, reflection and legislation in relation to the mandates for religion or belief are nowhere near as well developed as for gender, race and disability’. There are many issues still being debated and, in some cases, tested in courts, ranging from what beliefs the law covers, to what can be characterised as incitement against a religious person or group, to when, if ever, employers can seek to appoint a member of a specific faith.
In late October Public Spirit will host a series of articles exploring some of these debates. Topics that will be covered include:
- Discrimination against teachers in faith-based schools (Lucy Vickers, Oxford Brookes University);
- The on-going debate about caste-based discrimination (Prakash Shah of Queen Mary, University of London and Annapurna Waughray, University of Liverpool);
- The work of the Equality and human Rights Commission (David Perfect, EHRC);
- Recognition of Sharia in the UK (Maleiha Malik, King’s College London)
- Muslim struggles to be included in discrimination legislation (Nasar Meer, University of Northumbria, et al)
 Linda Woodhead, ‘Religion or Belief’: Identifying Issues and Priorities (Manchester: Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2009), 4.