Sexual orientation discrimination

Ashok Kanani Editor's message: The concept of harassment under the Equality Act 2010 is expansive. Where one person engages in unwanted conduct related to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation, which has the purpose or effect of violating another person's dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him or her, this constitutes harassment.

Although the harassment must be related to sexual orientation, remember that it does not have to relate to the person's actual sexual orientation; it can relate to his or her perceived sexual orientation, even if that perception is wrong. For example, if a heterosexual woman is harassed because she is perceived to be gay, it is enough that she has been harassed because of assumptions made about her sexual orientation even if they are mistaken.

For good practice guidance on issues around sexual orientation, see Good practice manual > Sexual orientation.

Ashok Kanani, employment law editor

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