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Equality Law

Equality Act 2010

Applies in England, Scotland and Wales

Protected characteristic

Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Protection and functions

Protection is provided against discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of sexual orientation and applies to employment, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services, the management of premises and the exercise of public functions.

This means protection related to sexual orientation for people seeking work, current and former employees in terms of:

  • Job recruitment.
  • Access to benefits and services.
  • Treatment they receive.

This means protection related to sexual orientation for enquirers, current and past students in terms of:

  • Student registration.
  • Access to benefits and services. Treatment they receive.

Public sector equality duty

Sexual orientation is included in the public sector duty under the Equality Act 2010 which means we have to have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant characteristic and persons who do not share it.
  • Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not it.

Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003

Applies in Northern Ireland

Prohibits discrimination, victimisation and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation in the areas of employment, and vocational training, including further and higher education.

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998

Applies in Northern Ireland

The protected characteristic of sexual orientation is subject to the duty placed on public authorities (which includes the OU) to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity:

  • Between persons of different age, religious belief, political opinion, racial group, marital status or sexual orientation
  • Between men and women generally
  • Between persons with a disability and persons without
  • Between persons with dependants and persons without.

This entails more than the elimination of discrimination and requires proactive measures to be taken to ensure equality for people of different racial groups in our policies and decision-making.