Case study

Investigating belief-based discrimination

Contributing to policy

Work by our researchers has contributed to new national policies for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Equality Challenge Unit and the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Researchers at the University of Derby were first among their peers to conduct national empirical research on the nature and extent of equality and discrimination based on religion or belief in England and Wales, under commission by the Home Office from 1999-2001.

They built up an extensive picture of reported experiences of, and opinions on, religious discrimination and charted how these have been affected by new legislation.

Most recently, Paul Weller, Professor of Inter-Religious Relations, re-examined such experiences, attitudes and opinions to understand how these had changed over the previous decade, particularly in light of new legislation, and to identify strategies for reducing discrimination.

Multi-cultural students

This research included innovative Knowledge Exchange Workshops, which stakeholders were invited to attend part way through the research and gave input into the findings.

The study showed that, a decade after the Home Office research, there were still many reported incidents of unfair treatment based on religion or belief, but fewer overall. The sectors with the most discrimination were still education, employment and the media. The groups most affected remained similar, but Christians were now reporting unfair treatment too.

Following a research commission from the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) to look at reported experiences of religion and belief equality in the higher education sector, our research suggested, for the first time, that there was no real objection to survey questions about religion, provided they were voluntary.

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