Equality and Diversity

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation is a term used to describe a pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to other people. It can also mean a person's sense of identity and membership in a community based on their sexual orientation. It is usually described in terms of categories, or as a spectrum ranging from exclusive attraction to the opposite sex, to exclusive attraction to the same sex.

Sexual orientation is defined as:

  • Orientation towards persons of the same sex
  • Orientation towards persons of the opposite sex
  • Orientations towards persons of the same sex and opposite sex

It is unlawful because of someones sexual orientation to:

  • Discriminate directly against anyone- that is treat them less favourably than others because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation
  • Discriminate indirectly against anyone- that is, to apply a criterion, provision or practice which disadvantages an individual because of their sexual orientation without a good reason
  • Subject someone to harassment. Harassment is unwanted conduct that violates a person's dignity or create an intimidations, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them
  • Victimise someone because they have made a complaint or allegation or have given evidence against someone else in relation to a complaint of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation
  • Discriminate against someone, in certain circumstances, after the working relationship has ended.


Exceptions may be made in very limited circumstances if there is a legal reason for this.