I can't really name it off the top of my head, but I want to say that there is an article of the HRA which prevents government policies and legislation itself from discriminating classes of people differently, akin to the US equal protection clause.

If this is so, then how is it constitutionally legal to have such a cushy policy towards Ukrainian refugees which seems essentially three UK government version of really wanting those refugees to be and feel welcome there rather than having its arm twisted due to refugee convention compliance obligations?

Of course this can only be relevant in an "all else being equal" scenario, like a Syrian refugee who came from an equally terribly wartorn area. Indeed, presumably some regions of Ukraine are not even as badly affected by the various conflicts as others, yet most of the H4U scheme seems to discern based simply on nationality.

As a side note, I don't suppose that the requested equality act 2010 is constitutional in the same sense as the HRA, so it wouldn't necessarily apply to and constrain other legislation?

  • 1
    "I don't suppose that the requested equality act 2010 is constitutional in the same sense as the HRA" - what sense are you thinking of?
    – Lag
    Jul 14, 2022 at 12:35
  • Sorry, I don't know what I might have meant by the word requested and it might have just been added in by autocorrect rather than a substitution for anything. Jul 14, 2022 at 19:07
  • As I understand it from previous questions' answers legislation generally sits side by side with each other and they try to reconcile each conflict with equal regard for each statute unless one of them is "constitutional". HRA is one of the fundamental/ "constitutional" ones which must take precedence in case of a conflict. So I kind of suppose that the EA2010 would bind private businesses acting candidly but if there are specific legal provisions that say that the gov must act X way then that is inherently not "unlawful" discrimination. But no legal provisions which contravene the HRA or Jul 14, 2022 at 19:12
  • Other constitutional laws can be valid. Jul 14, 2022 at 19:12

3 Answers 3


Essentially this issue was raised last year in R (AB) v SSHD [2023] EWHC 287 (Admin). The claimant, AB, is an Afghan national who sought entry to the UK under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP). She alleged for the judicial review that the UK government discriminated against her, contrary to Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, because ARAP was more procedurally demanding than the Ukrainian Family Scheme.

Although the difference in availability of the two schemes is not strictly because of nationality, the reality is that ones nationality is very closely connected to which scheme, if either, one can use. This entails the court applying a higher degree of scrutiny to the government's actions.

In this instance, the judge found that there was differential and unfavorable treatment of AB compared to a hypothetical Ukrainian comparator. However, she also said that the government was justified in operating different rules for different countries of origin. This was based on evidence from civil servants about the UK's national security posture, diplomatic links, and foreign policy objectives. For example, the UK is more worried about accidentally letting in an Afghan terrorist than a Ukrainian one, and the required background checks are correspondingly different. The judgment does not go into much detail here, but the overall legal point is that discriminatory treatment can potentially be justified if the grounds are sufficiently compelling.

The Equality Act 2010, raised in the question, might ordinarily be thought to apply to decisions by government about the provision of services. However, it is expressly disapplied as far as discrimination on the grounds of nationality, ethnic or national origin, in relation to decisions made under the Immigration Acts. (This term encompasses the several differently-named pieces of primary legislation relating to immigration, and the various rules and schemes made under them.) This is in section 17 of Schedule 3.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme would also be covered by this exemption, because it's part of the system for sponsoring people under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (a different way that they can get visas).

  • Very Interesting. But I don’t suppose that Vodafone’s free phone service for Ukrainian refugees (but not Afghan or Syrian) would qualify for that exemption. Dec 21, 2023 at 2:15

I can't really name it off the top of my head, but I want to say that there is an article of the ...

Cases cannot be won, when the facts on which you base your arguments are faulty due lack of previous research or 'assumptions'.

I have listed 2 points below, which would probably lead to such a case not being accepted by any court.

Furthermore, you haven't taken into account on how the Westminster system works:

Parliament's authority - UK Parliament
Parliamentary sovereignty is a principle of the UK constitution. It makes Parliament the supreme legal authority in the UK, which can create or end any law. Generally, the courts cannot overrule its legislation and no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change. Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important part of the UK constitution.

In this case however (as far as I can see), the 'Homes for Ukraine’ is not based on a act of parliament:

'Homes for Ukraine’ scheme launches - GOV.UK
The Homes for Ukraine scheme will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses in the UK to bring Ukrainians to safety – including those with no family ties to the UK.

which implies that it is more of a scheme that individuals can support or not.

How then would you go about convincing a court that such a scheme, where individuals may choose to participate or not, (that is not an act of parliament) is not constitutional?

The Human Rights Act is a UK law passed in 1998. ... The human rights contained within this law are based on the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. and not based on the US equal protection clause.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) protects the human rights of people in countries that belong to the Council of Europe.

Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe, Syria is not.



"Needs humanitarian aid" is not a protected category. "Ukrainians" in this context are not a race or nationality but rather subject of humanitarian emergency.

Comparably, after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Coca-Cola supplied bottled water to the affected regions. The countries most impacted by this disaster included Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand, so the aid was kind of "nationally restricted" to these countries, but this still was not a breach of human rights.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .