Legislation overview

The principal legislation governing sexual orientation discrimination from 1 October 2010 is the Equality Act 2010. The Act represents the most significant overhaul of the legislation covering discrimination since the 1970s.

Before 1 October 2010 the key legislation was the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/1661) (the Regulations). These Regulations had been in force since 1 December 2003 implementing the sexual orientation aspects of EC General Framework Directive (2000/78).

There is a helpful and detailed Code of practice on employment and other non-statutory guidance available on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website.

Q: What is the definition of 'sexual orientation' for the purposes of the sexual orientation discrimination legislation?

Q: What types of sexual orientation discrimination claim can a claimant make against an employer?

Q: How can an employer justify or defend a claim of sexual orientation discrimination?

Q: Can a sexual orientation discrimination claim arise if an employer does not know about an employee’s sexuality?

Q: Can a sexual orientation discrimination claim arise if an employer did not intend an employee to hear or see a discriminatory comment?

Q: Is there case law guidance on the amount of compensation an employer will have to pay an employee who succeeds in a sexual orientation discrimination claim?

Q: If there is an equal opportunities policy in place is there anything else an employer should do to deal with prejudice banter or heterosexual machismo in the workplace?

Q: Is it necessary to require new employees to complete a form specifying their single or partnership status following the Civil Partnerships Act 2004?

Q: Is an employee who is in a same sex marriage or civil partnership entitled to the same pension rights as those in an equivalent heterosexual relationship?

Q: Are there any future developments expected in the area of sexual orientation discrimination?

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