Editor's message: Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and means sexual orientation towards persons of the same sex, persons of the opposite sex or persons of either sex.
Protection extends to discrimination because of a person's perceived sexual orientation. This means that a heterosexual individual who is discriminated against on the basis of a mistaken belief that he or she is gay is protected.
There are various steps that your organisation can take to establish an inclusive workplace for your LGBT staff, including equality awareness training and having an effective equal opportunities policy that is promoted and embedded within your organisation's culture. Such steps will also help your organisation to defend a sexual orientation discrimination complaint should it ever arise.
Fiona Cuming, employment law editor
HR and legal information and guidance relating to sexual orientation discrimination.