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Sexual orientation discrimination

Updating author: Tina McKevitt


  • Sexual orientation is a "protected characteristic" under the Equality Act 2010. (See Meaning of sexual orientation)
  • As well as being liable for its own actions, there are circumstances in which an employer will be liable for the acts of others. (See Who is liable?)
  • The Equality Act 2010 prohibits direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment. (See Prohibited conduct)
  • Direct discrimination is where, because of the protected characteristic of sexual orientation, a person treats another person less favourably than that person treats or would treat other persons. (See Direct discrimination)
  • Indirect discrimination occurs where a "provision, criterion or practice" puts persons of the same sexual orientation at a "particular disadvantage". Under the Equality Act 2010, it is possible for employers to justify indirect discrimination. (See Indirect discrimination and Justification)
  • Harassment is unwanted conduct related to an individual's sexual orientation that has the purpose or effect of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. (See Harassment)
  • Victimisation occurs when a person is subjected to a detriment because they did a protected act. (See Victimisation)
  • There are some exemptions from unlawful sexual orientation discrimination. (See Occupational requirements and Other exceptions)