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
In NH v Associazione Avvocatura per i diritti LGBTI, the European Court of Justice held that a senior lawyer's comments on a radio programme that he would not wish to recruit homosexual people fell within the scope of the Equal Treatment Framework Directive (2000/78/EC) even though his firm was not recruiting, or planning to recruit, at the time.
In Allen v Paradigm Precision Burnley Ltd and another, an employment tribunal found that homophobic comments made by colleagues to to a gay employee amounted to sexual orientation harassment.
A table listing the sexual orientation discrimination awards made by employment tribunals in 2018/19.
In Governing Body of Sutton Oak Church of England Primary School and others v Whittaker, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that an employment tribunal failed to identify an appropriate hypothetical comparator when deciding that a gay teacher's dismissal for inappropriate meetings with a pupil constituted sexual orientation discrimination.
In Governing Body of Tywyn Primary School v Aplin, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld a headteacher's constructive dismissal and sexual orientation discrimination claims after his school mishandled disciplinary action over his lawful sexual activities with two 17-year-olds he met through Grindr.
Updated to include information on Bessong v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, in which the EAT considered if an employer can be held liable for third-party harassment under the Equality Act 2010.
In Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd and others, the Supreme Court held that a Christian bakery did not commit direct sexual orientation discrimination in the provision of goods and services when it refused to fulfil a cake order with a message in support of same-sex marriage.
A table listing the sexual orientation discrimination awards made by employment tribunals in 2017/18.
The law on discrimination in recruitment and selection, including the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on recruitment, direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, the duty to make reasonable adjustments, positive action, occupational requirements, monitoring and keeping records.
A table listing the sexual orientation discrimination awards made by employment tribunals in 2016/17.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to sexual orientation discrimination.