The new Equality Bill will extend discrimination protection to trans people, Women’s Minister Harriet Harman announced today.

Currently, laws exist to protect people from discrimination and harassment based on race, religion, belief or sexuality.

The new provisions extend powers against discrimination and harassment in respect of race, sex, gender reassignment, disability, sexual orientation, religion and age.

They relate to areas such as employment, goods, services and facilities.

In a written statement to MPs, Harman said: “I am today announcing that we have decided to extend the prohibition against associative and perceptive direct discrimination and harassment to other strands and areas where this does not currently apply.

“The Equality Bill will therefore prohibit direct discrimination and harassment based on association and perception in respect of race, sex, gender reassignment, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age and in relation to both employment and areas beyond this, such as goods, facilities and services.

“This extension will implement the Coleman judgment in Great Britain and the extension to other protected characteristics is in keeping with the aims of the Equality Bill to simplify and strengthen the law.”

On Tuesday, the Financial Times reported that the Bill was becoming a bone of contention between Harman and Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson.

Mandelson is understood to be concerned that the Bill could place undue regulation on businesses at a difficult financial time.

It has been suggested that large and medium private businesses may be forced to disclose equality data in reports, which the CBI described as “regulatory big stick”.