The Equality Bill, which establishes a single Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), completed its parliamentary stages yesterday, and now awaits royal assent.
The CEHR is designed to be 'a one-stop shop' for individuals suffering discrimination and to provide employers and service providers with improved advice and information.
The body will bring together the work of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission.
The CEHR will also have responsibility for the new equality areas of age, religion and belief and sexual orientation, and will work to promote human rights.
It will be established in October 2007 for all areas except those the CRE is responsible for. These areas will remain with the CRE until April 2009, when its responsibilities will transfer to the CEHR.
The Bill also creates a duty on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between men and women ('the gender duty') and to prohibit sex discrimination in the exercise of public functions.