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Equity's equalities history

Equity has fought for equality and diversity for many years, here are some examples.

1956           The Equity Council instructs member not to accept work with any South African theatre company operating a colour bar unless some performances are in front of multi-racial audiences.

1963           The Equity Council issues an instruction to members not to work in front of segregated audiences.

1967           The first report of the Equity Coloured Artists’ Advisory Committee is adopted by the Council. This includes the first recorded use of the term “integrated casting”.

1973           A demonstration outside the BBC opposed the casting of white performers in parts written as Asian without any attempt to cast Asian performers.

1974           The Equity Council refuses to change BBC and ITV agreements to allow the sale of TV programmes to South Africa.

1976           Three claims taken by Equity under the Equal Pay Act, which came into force the year before, are successful. Equity Womens’ Committee established

1977           Members of the Transport and General Workers Union refuse to make deliveries to the Barras Green Working men’s Club in Coventry in support of Equity’s campaign to force it to lift its colour bar.

1984           The Independent Theatre Council is the first employers’ body to agree the introduction an equal opportunities clause into the industrial agreement. Other employers soon follow.

1984           Equity holds it first conference on integrated casting. The Equity Disabled Performers Committee is set up.

1992          Dr Helen Thomas’ report, published this year, shows that women performers are paid less than their male counterparts and have shorter working lives.

1992           The first register of disabled artists is published by Equity and Spotlight

1997           Equity and campaign group 1 in 8 organise the Moving On forum, bringing together key people in TV, film and Theatre, to challenge the perception that disabled performers can only play parts written as disabled.

2002           Equity backs the Eclipse Report on combating racism in theatre and monitoring forms drafted by Equity go out to every English theatre.

2005           Equity campaigns on the issue of dwindling work for older women in entertainment.

2012           Equity launches the “I can act but I won’t pretend” campaign that aimed to support professionals in coming out about their sexuality.

2011           Equity members vote to change the union’s  rules. The change was that the union would not defend the right of members to hold and express their personal political and other beliefs if that involved them unfairly discriminating or victimizing people on the grounds of their sex, race, ethnic or national origin, religion, colour, class, caring responsibilities, marital status, sexuality, disability, age or other status or personal characteristic.

2014           After years of campaigning by Equity Arts Council England and the major broadcasters agree to introduce equality and diversity monitoring of actors and 11 leading theatres pledge to achieve gender equality in their casting.

2015           Equity magazine has a cover feature and interview with Rebecca Root, the first transgender actress to get a lead in a major UK TV sit-com.

2015           Equity launches Count Me In, a campaign to encourage members to complete equality and diversity monitoring forms in TV and theatre.