Sexual Orientation


Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can face prejudice and discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. The Equality Act provides protection to workers suffering from discrimination because of sexual orientation. UNISON works to end discrimination and promote equality for all.

It is unlawful to treat a person unfavourably at work because of their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is attraction to people of the same sex (lesbian or gay), the opposite sex (heterosexual or straight) or people of either sex (bisexual).

The law protects everyone, but it is lesbian, gay and bisexual workers who are most likely to face this type of prejudice and discrimination.

Your employer must not discriminate against you and must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that others do not discriminate against you at work because of sexual orientation.

The Equality Act protects workers from many forms of workplace discrimination, including sexual orientation.

The most common form of sexual orientation discrimination is harassment – such as prejudiced comments or abuse, exclusion or over-supervision.

This includes actions such as homophobic comments made to you even if you are not and are not perceived to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. It could also be reflected in an employee’s terms of employment, such as access to family friendly benefits, or a refusal to offer employment, promotion or training.

Sexual orientation harassment at work occurs when someone engages in unwanted conduct related to sexual orientation, which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

You are may be being harassed if you are:

  • humiliated;
  • subjected to unwanted comments;
  • ignored;
  • excluded.

A lot of people put up with harassment, hoping it will go away. But it usually won’t stop until someone takes action.