Equality before the law and the right to the equal protection and benefit of the law is the first right set out in the Bill of Rights. This right sets the tone for all the other rights in this section of the Constitution.
When the Bill was written it was taken into account that due to past racial policies, some members of the South African population were not on an equal footing to others and thus provision was made for the creation of policies to promote equality and correct the imbalances of the years gone by.
(1) Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
(2) Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. Topromote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.
(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
(4) No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3). National legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.
(5) Discrimination on one or more of the grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair.