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Sexual Orientation

Do you know your rights?

Did you know that in certain situations, such as at work, the law says that you can’t be treated less favourably, or put at a disadvantage, because of your sexual orientation?  This is because Sex Orientation is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. Sexual Orientation refers to whether you are attracted to someone of the same sex, the opposite sex or both sexes.  

This unfair treatment is called discrimination. There are several types of discrimination, including direct and indirect discrimination.

Direct discrimination is when you are treated less favourably because of your sexual orientation. For instance, if a woman mentions her wife during a job interview and is then not offered the job even though she was the best candidate.


Indirect discrimination is when an arrangement that affects everyone has an unfair effect on some people because of their sexual orientation. For example, if outdated company policies refer to ‘husbands and wives’ and the language alludes only to opposite-sex couples.


People can be treated differently because of their sexual orientation where there is a good reason to do so, such as when a role is advertised for a position on a young person’s helpline and experience of coming out is a vital part of the support being offered. The role can be advertised for a lesbian, gay or bisexual person.


It’s important to know and understand equality law, but it can be complex. 

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