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Prisoners and discrimination

It is unlawful to discriminate against people on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation

The Equality Act not only requires prisons to ensure that prisoners do not suffer discrimination on any of these grounds but also to take steps to actively promote equality.

Discrimination can occur when a prison deliberately treats a particular type of prisoner differently or operates in a way that makes it much more difficult for the prisoner to do something.

A succession of damning independent reports confirm that many prisoners continue to suffer a wide range of discrimination which leaves them unable to participate in day-to-day prison life or progress through the prison system.

For example, there is often a failure to identify, assess or address the disability needs of people in prison, particularly elderly prisoners, who may experience difficulties washing, dressing, moving around the prison and attending work, education or offending behaviour courses.

Other common examples include elderly prisoners being paid less than younger prisoners, prisoners being prevented from practicing aspects of their religion, female prisoners having less access to open prisons than male prisoners and transgender prisoners not being allowed to wear appropriate clothing.

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