The Single Equality Act (2010)
) makes it illegal to discriminate in the workplace and in providing services on various grounds, including that of gender. The law specifically states: "less favourable treatment of a woman includes less favourable treatment of her because she is breast-feeding".
The law consolidates past equality legislation across England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, existing legislation remains in force.
Scotland has additional protection in its Breastfeeding, etc (Scotland) Act, 2005
), which makes it an offence to try to stop a mother feeding a child (defined as up to two-years old) in a place accessible to the public.
In response to a petition on the 10 Downing Street website prior to the adoption of the Single Equality Act the Government at the time pointed out :
There is already protection for women who are breastfeeding, whatever the age of the baby, wherever goods and services are provided - for example in shops, cafes, on buses etc. This is within existing sex discrimination law.
There is also added protection under the grounds of ‘maternity’, so that there is even stronger protection for the first six months. The Equality Bill will make it explicit that maternity discrimination includes ‘breastfeeding’, so that women can be completely confident in the knowledge that the law is on their side if they want to breastfeed while going about their day-to-day business, without having to face the humiliation of for example being asked to leave a cafe by the owner.
BFLG is part of the Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalition
. Objective 5 of the Manifesto calls on the Government to do all it can to protect women’s right to breastfeed in public places.