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Sexual Orientation

The LGBTQ Network meets on a regular basis.  Our aim is to provide an opportunity for staff who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer to meet and discuss topics of interest, host talks and films or to just socialise.

We would welcome more members to the Group so please get in touch with either:

Kate Sugden k.sugden@aston.ac.uk  or  Chris Dowd  c.dowd@aston.ac.uk if you would like to come along.

Events

What the law says

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate or victimise a person because of their sexual orientation in employment, higher education, the provision of goods, facilities and services and the provision of recreational or training facilities.

The Act defines sexual orientation as a person’s sexual orientation towards:

  • persons of the same sex,

  • persons of the opposite sex, or

  • persons of either sex

The definition of sexual orientation refers to a person’s feelings rather than their actions.

The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of any of the above and also covers discrimination because of perceived sexual orientation and discrimination because of the sexual orientation of those with whom you associate e.g. friends and family.

The Act does not, however, protect against harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services.

What does the Act cover in relation to employment?

The Act provides protection against discrimination, victimisation and harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation throughout the whole employment relationship, including:

  • recruitment and selection
  • terms of employment
  • benefits provided during employment and on termination
  • promotion opportunities
  • access to training
  • dismissal (including redundancy)
  • retirement
  • harassment
  • post termination discrimination and harassment

What does the Act cover in relation to Higher Education?

The Act makes it unlawful for the governing body of a HEI to discriminate against or victimise a person/student because of their sexual orientation in any of the following ways:

  • in the arrangements it makes for deciding who is offered admission as a student

  • in the terms on which it offers to admit the person as a student

  • by not admitting the person as a student

  • in the way it provides education for the student

  • in the way it affords the student access to a benefit, facility or service

  • providing education for the student

  • by not affording the student access to a benefit, facility or service

  • by excluding the student

  • by subjecting the student to any other detriment

What does the Act cover in relation to the provision of services, goods and facilities?

HEIs provide a range of services to both staff and students, such as childcare services, libraries and careers and employment services, and as such are considered to be service providers.

The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against or victimise a person who is seeking access to or is accessing a service:

  • in the terms of providing the service

  • by terminating the provision of the service

  • by subjecting the service user to any other detriment

 What does the Act cover in relation to the provision of recreational or training facilities?

The Act provides protection against discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of recreational or training facilities, such as sports services or clubs. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should not discriminate against or victimise a person in:

  • the arrangements it makes for deciding who is provided with the facilities

  • the terms on which it offers to provide the facilities to the person

  • not accepting the person’s application for provision of the facilities

In addition HEIs should not harass a person who is seeking to access or accessing recreational or training facilities. 

What types of discrimination does the legislation refer to?

Direct Discrimination - Treating people less favourably than others because of their sexual orientation

Associative Discrimination - Treating people less favourably than others because they associate with someone of a particular sexual orientation

Perceptive Discrimination - Treating people less favourably than others because they are perceived, correctly or incorrectly, to be of a particular sexual orientation.

Indirect Discrimination - Applying a provision, criterion or practice which disadvantages people of a particular sexual orientation and which cannot be shown as a proportionate means (i.e. necessary and there is no alternative means available) of achieving a legitimate aim (e.g. a real business need)

Harassment - Unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, i.e. sexual orientation, that has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

The Act also protects against third party harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation. The University will therefore be liable for harassment of its employees by third parties, such as external contractors, unless they have taken reasonable steps to prevent it from happening. However, this liability will only apply if the University knows that the employee has been harassed on at least two previous occasions.

Victimisation - Treating a person less favourably than others because the person has:

  • brought proceedings under the Act;

  • given evidence or information in connection with proceedings under the Act

  • done any other thing for the purposes of or in connection with this Act

  • made an allegation (whether or not express) that there has been a breach of the Act

Protection is not afforded where the person gives false evidence or information or makes an allegation or has given evidence or information in bad faith

Policies  

Sexual Orientation Code of Practice (to be updated shortly)

Networks

There is a Staff LGTBQ Network at Aston. For further details contact Kate Sugden k.sugden@aston.ac.uk  or

Chris Dowd at c.dowd@aston.ac.uk

The EHRC is an independent statutory body which champions equality and human rights for all and works to eliminate discrimination, reduce inequality, protect human rights and to build good relations, ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to participate in society.

The Equality Challenge Unithave produced a range of publications and guidance on Sexual Orientation

An ACAS Guidefor employers and employees on Sexual Orientation in the Workplace

Stonewall is a registered charity that works to achieve legal equality and social justice for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the UK.

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Last Updated on July 2012