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Racial tensions surrounding the arrival of Commonwealth immigrants in the UK from the 1950s led to calls for legislation to ensure that their rights were protected. This was crystallised by the Bristol bus boycott organised by Guy Bailey and Paul Stephenson in 1963 after Bailey was refused an employment interview because he was black.
The success of the boycott added to the pressure on Parliament to pass the Race Relations Act 1965, establishing the Race Relations Board. However, prosecutions proved difficult. In 1968, the law was extended to prohibit discrimination in housing, training and education, and in the provision of goods and services. In 1976, new legislation established the Commission for Racial Equality, banned direct and indirect discrimination, and allowed for complaints to be made to industrial tribunals and courts.
The Macpherson inquiry into the murder in 1993 of black teenager Stephen Lawrence brought about legislative changes in 2000 that included public bodies and the police within the scope of the 1976 Act, with a general duty on public bodies to promote equality of opportunity and good race relations. With the Equality Act 2010, the duty was extended to cover other protected characteristics, such as age, sex and disability.