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Civil Liberties or Civil Rights

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 31 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
Civil Rights Civil Liberties

For many people the difference between civil liberties and civil rights is a confusing issue. There are distinct definitions that exist between the two terms although they can be seen to have certain links with each other.

Defining Rights and Liberties

There is a major difference between what is known as civil liberties and civil rights. Civil liberties are a basic set of laws of freedom and rights that have been guaranteed by the government. These liberties have been guaranteed in the forms of laws that have been passed to protect rights such as marriage rights or the right to vote. In many cases these liberties are also set out as protection from government abuse of power. Civil rights are a set of rules and laws that are intended to protect people from discrimination and harassment when it comes to issues such as race, gender, and ethnicity.

Basic Civil Liberties

Civil liberties and civil rights may seem like a confusing issue when it comes to definition but they do cover two separate areas. Basic protected civil liberties will include:
  • The right to freedom of speech and privacy
  • The right to a fair court trial for every person
  • The right to marry
  • Certain rights such as the police being prohibited from searching the home without a warrant

Defining Civil Rights

Civil rights took a lot longer to come into force and have been an historic struggle over hundreds of years. The civil rights movements in both America and the UK were instrumental in winning civil rights against discrimination. Only by fighting for these civil rights were people able to go about their lives without fear of harassment and discrimination. Civil rights mean equal treatment for all without discrimination based on gender, race, age, disability, religion, sexuality and nationality.

Civil Rights Movement

Today we take many of the civil rights we have for granted but this was not always the case. Civil rights have been a controversial issue in both America and in the UK. It has been just over 40 years since the Civil Rights Act 1964 was passed. Before this, African-American people were subjected to discrimination on a massive scale with regards to employment, housing and voting rights. The battle for equal rights did not come without bloodshed and it was a hugely important period in the world’s history.

A Common Example

An example that will help explain the difference between civil liberties and human rights can be found when it comes to employment. An employee does not have any legal rights when it comes to being promoted; it is not guaranteed or defined as a civil liberty. However, a disabled employee should not be discriminated against if they wish to apply for a promotion. If they are discriminated against because they are disabled then this would be an infringement of their civil rights not their civil liberties.

Enforcing your Civil Rights

If someone has been discriminated against because of race, gender, disability etc, then they can enforce their civil rights. Legal proceedings are costly but they may sometimes be the only option. Civil rights are protected under the law and it is a legal right to take a case to the civil courts. However, the cost of doing so may make this a prohibitive route for some. Other initial options can include starting a grievance procedure, talking to superiors about the discrimination and even taking the issue to the media.

In many cases the simple act of personally enforcing your civil rights on a smaller scale will make a difference. Discrimination should never be tolerated; people have fought and died for the civil rights we now take for granted. It only takes one person to stand up and make a difference when it comes to maintaining an equal society.

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I was targeted seven years a go and I am a inercent person and I amtorcerd every day and I have ask for helpfrom the police andthey have not done a thingand they keep on listing to me being tortured on that 044440040. Youcan hear me on a UHF radio and can you please send help.
Politics in pete - 7-Jan-17 @ 8:08 PM
The neighbours in Beeston and the police in Leeds like officer Stephenson, have crossed the line of harassing me and my family for months on end 2 years. The police and ambulance have been monitoring my computer and phone 24/7 12 months, following me in their police cars for months and asking neighbours to harass me in covert intimidating ways.
Larry - 11-Dec-16 @ 1:39 PM
How douse the council have the right to brake the human rights act 1998 and civil liberties by entering your property and invading your privacy asI do think uunderstand how thay can and the police and others car nt without a court order to do so as a lot of people are having there rights invaded bye a black council worker in my area and I don't think it's right to look all over there property room from room and take away there freedom this is a decrease to all the old and young people in our country so how a d why can thay do this please could you explain this so I can explain it to everyone thanks clive
cham - 9-Oct-15 @ 9:55 PM
yes im writing in regards to sum questions i have maybe sujm help insight on what i need to do to make my personal situation stop. The DEA and local departments are breaking a majarity of my civil rights . PRIVACY\SECURITY I have proof {recorded audio and video } Thank you look forwaed to hearing from yaASAP
randy - 2-Sep-14 @ 7:14 AM
HI, Is there anybody out there? Dark days of discrimination are back in UK.This time ordinary Iranians are the victims. HSBC bank in UK is closing the account of many ordinary Iranian customer, because of their nationality. Ordinary Iranian are being punished (collective punishment)because of sanctions which are supposedto targeting Iranian government. Collective punishment is immoral and discriminatory.Please help.
nasser - 2-Apr-14 @ 12:09 PM
The civil rights groups that seem to think the sentences handed out to the rioters are too harsh are living in cloud cuckoo land, the sentences were nowhere near hard enough they should get years in prison not a few measly months.
yanis53 - 19-Aug-11 @ 9:57 AM
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