Race Relations Act 1965
The Race Relations Act 1965 was the first legislation in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 to address racial discrimination.

The Act outlawed discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 on the "grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins" in public places.

It also prompted the creation of The Race Relations Board (in 1966), to consider complaints under the Act.

Reasons for the Act's introduction

The UK saw an influx of economic migrants after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, many from the Commonwealth countries. The Museum of London
Museum of London
The Museum of London documents the history of London from the Prehistoric to the present day. The museum is located close to the Barbican Centre, as part of the striking Barbican complex of buildings created in the 1960s and 70s as an innovative approach to re-development within a bomb damaged...

 states that "casual ‘colour prejudice’ was part of daily life" for many.
In 1958, London saw the Notting Hill riots, and in 1963 the Bristol Bus Boycott
Bristol Bus Boycott, 1963
The Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 arose from the refusal of the Bristol Omnibus Company to employ Black or Asian bus crews in Bristol, England. In common with other British cities there was widespread discrimination in housing and employment at that time against "coloureds." Led by youth worker...



The Act made it a civil offence (rather than a criminal offence) to refuse to serve a person, an unreasonable delay in serving someone, or overcharging, on the grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins.

The first conviction under the act came in October 1967, when a 17-year-old member of the National Socialist Party
National Socialist Party
Parties in various contexts have referred to themselves as National Socialist parties. Because there is no clear definition of national socialism, the term has been used to mean very different things...

 was found guilty of racial discrimination at Middlesex
Middlesex is one of the historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time...

 Area Sessions.


The Act did not extend to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, and specifically excluded shops and private boarding houses.
It was "a weak piece of legislation" and failed to end racial discrimination in the UK, as evidenced by the expansion of the British National Front
British National Front
The National Front is a far right, white-only political party whose major political activities took place during the 1970s and 1980s. Its popularity peaked in the 1979 general election, when it received 191,719 votes ....

 and Enoch Powell
Enoch Powell
John Enoch Powell, MBE was a British politician, classical scholar, poet, writer, and soldier. He served as a Conservative Party MP and Minister of Health . He attained most prominence in 1968, when he made the controversial Rivers of Blood speech in opposition to mass immigration from...

's 1968 Rivers of Blood speech
Rivers of Blood speech
The "Rivers of Blood" speech was a speech criticising Commonwealth immigration, as well as proposed anti-discrimination legislation in the United Kingdom made on 20 April 1968 by Enoch Powell , the Conservative Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West...


Amendment and repeal

The Act was strengthened with the Race Relations Act 1968
Race Relations Act 1968
The Race Relations Act 1968 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom making it illegal to refuse housing, employment, or public services to a person on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national origins. It also created the Community Relations Commission to promote 'harmonious...

, which extended the legislation's remit to cover employment and housing. It was repealed by the Race Relations Act 1976
Race Relations Act 1976
The Race Relations Act 1976 was established by the Parliament of the United Kingdom to prevent discrimination on the grounds of race.Items that are covered include discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin in the fields of employment, the provision of...

, which saw the creation of the Commission for Racial Equality
Commission for Racial Equality
The Commission for Racial Equality was a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom which aimed to tackle racial discrimination and promote racial equality. Its work has been merged into the new Equality and Human Rights Commission.-History:...


See also

  • UK employment discrimination law
  • Charter v Race Relations Board [1973] AC 868
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.