Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation discrimination legislation has been in place in the UK since 2003. Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The law is primarily designed to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) employees and job applicants against direct and indirect sexual orientation discrimination, and harassment and victimisation because of someone's sexual orientation.

However, it is well-established in UK case law that a heterosexual individual can also be subjected to sexual orientation discrimination. For example, this could occur where a homophobic taunt is used towards an individual whom the perpetrator knows is not actually gay (English v Thomas Sanderson Blinds Ltd).

“Gender reassignment” is a separate protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. This means that transgender individuals are also protected against discrimination in the workplace.


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For a limited time only, Personnel Today Plus members can access a full model policy on equal opportunities which takes...

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Case of the week McFarlane v Relate Avon Ltd

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Discrimination law opt-out on employing homosexuals to go

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Police chief’s son apologises for calling all WPCs ‘dykes’

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