Discrimination: Sexual orientation, Marriage and Civil Partnership

Caragh Bailey
3 min read
Discrimination Sexual orientation and marriage. Advice from employment law friend
Discrimination based on sexual orientation , and marriage and civil partnership discrimination is wrong, but, sadly, still happens all too often. To learn more about what behaviours constitute the different types of discrimination, read our main page on discrimination. If you'd like to jump ahead, read our article Discrimination at work: What should you do?

Discrimination: Sexual orientation

You are protected if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight.

Asexuality (no sexual attraction, feeling or desires) is not protected by the equality act. A petition to make Asexuality a protected characteristic was submitted to the UK parliament in 2016, but, gathered only 835 signatures in six months. If you are romantically attracted to members of the same sex, the opposite sex, or both, and this is the basis for the discrimination you have been subject to, you may be able to make a claim as lesbian, gay, straight or bisexual.

Aromantic people are not protected. (Aromantic people have no romantic relationships, nor any desire for one. They may, however feel sexual attraction and desires). If you are sexually attracted to members of the same sex, the opposite sex, or both, and this is the basis for the discrimination you have been subject to, you may be able to make a claim as lesbian, gay, straight or bisexual.

Pansexuality is not specifically protected by the equality act. However, depending on your case, it may be possible to claim protection as bisexual, which is defined in the equality act:

sexual orientation

Direct Discrimination: Sexual Orientation

Any unfavourable treatment which is directly because of:
  • Your actual sexual orientation. (Direct Discrimination of Sexual Orientation).
  • Your perceived sexual orientation. (Direct Discrimination by Perception).
  • The sexual orientation of someone you associate with, (Direct Discrimination by Association).

Indirect Discrimination: Sexual Orientation

Any rule, policy or common practise which someone of a particular orientation would be less likely to meet, putting them at a disadvantage.
For example: Your employer provides employee benefits including medical insurance. The husbands and wives of employees are included in the company policy, but civil partners are not.

Sexual orientation discrimination examples

  • You are not invited to bring your same sex partner to a work event, but your straight colleagues are invited to bring theirs.
  • You are one of the only employees in your team who is heterosexual. You receive a disproportionately negative annual review, you can find no other significant reason for this than your sexual orientation.
  • You are bullied or harassed because you are bisexual.

If someone has been violent or hostile towards you because of your sexual orientation, you can report it as a hate crime.
In an emergency call 999.
If it is not an emergency contact your local Police station or call 101.
If you would like to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Marriage and Civil partnership discrimination in the workplace

You are protected from discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of marriage or civil partnership
Protected from discrimination in the workplace
Not protected from discrimination in the workplace
  • Legally married
  • In a civil partnership
  • Separated but not divorced or dissolved
  • Single
  • Engaged
  • Cohabiting
  • Divorced or dissolved
  • Widowed

For example:
  • You are dismissed from your job in nightclub promotions when you get married, because your employer thinks married people should not do your job.
  • People who are married, or in a civil partnership are not invited to company networking events.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. Marriage and civil partnership is not covered by discrimination by association, or by discrimination by perception.

Discrimination: Sexual Orientation & Marriage and Civil Partnership

If you're facing unfavourable treatment because of who you are, get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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