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Workplace Sexual Orientation Discrimination Law

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Workplace sexual orientation discrimination law protects you if:

  • you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual;

  • people think you are gay, lesbian or heterosexual (when, in fact, you are not); or

  • you have gay friends or visit gay clubs.

The law prohibits discrimination in all areas of employment, including: recruitment; employment terms and conditions; pay and benefits; work status; training; promotion and transfer opportunities; redundancy; & dismissal.

Discrimination falls into four categories: (1) direct discrimination; (2) indirect discrimination; (3) harassment; and (4) victimisation.

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination would occur if, for example, an employer refused to employ a heterosexual woman whom the employer believed was bisexual.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination would occur if, for example, an employer only placed a job advertisement in newspapers and magazines aimed at gays and/or lesbians as heterosexuals tend not to read such publications.


If you work in an environment where people tell jokes about different sexual orientations that you find offensive, or where people are picked on because of their perceived sexual orientation, this could be harassment.


If you have made a complaint about sexual orientation discrimination and you are subsequently treated badly because of having complained, this is unlawful victimisation.

Civil partnerships

If you are a same-sex couple in a civil partnership you are entitled to the same benefits as a married person (for example, survivors' benefits under a company pension scheme) if the benefits have been in place since 5 December 2005 (when the Civil Partnership Act came into force).

If your employer gives benefits to opposite sex, unmarried partners of its employees (e.g., the employees opposite sex partner is able to drive the company car), refusing the same benefits to same-sex partners could be discrimination.

** Additional information & advice **

You can obtain further information about workplace sexual orientation discrimination law from , the  and the .

Depending on the circumstances of your case, however, it may be better to .  You can be in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.

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