As of 1st December 2003, it's illegal for employers to discriminate against
their gay workers. New legislation means that lesbian, gay and bisexual employees
cannot be treated less favourably than their workmates because of their sexuality.
These new rights protect lesbian, gay and bisexual employees and students from discrimination
including bullying and harassment as well as exclusion from employee benefits, training and promotion
opportunities. Employers now have to be pro-active in ensuring their gay workers are treated fairly by
both management and co-workers.
The new legislation has been welcomed by campaign group Stonewall. Chief executive
Ben Summerskill says: "These
new regulations are a huge step forward. Until now,
there has been no protection for an individual suffering
discrimination or harassment at work. Employers could
even get away with sacking someone just because they
The new laws aren't perfect though. There are a few exemptions which are being
challenged by the trade unions. The TUC are currently
co-ordinating a judicial review of provisions in the new law that'll allow
discrimination on religious grounds and will deny the same-sex partners of employees
the right to benefits given to married partners of staff. An initial hearing is expected
early in the new year.
Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, is welcoming the new law but says the
exemptions must go: 'These rights are a massive leap towards fairness for lesbian,
gay and bisexual employees but we want them to go all the way. Itís a shame to have to go
to court to achieve this but we have worked hard for these new rights and we
want them to be solid.'
So what are your new rights? Check out the TUC's new
website which answers issues raised
by the new legislation such as:
What does the law mean by Ďdiscrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation?
Which jobs are covered by the legislation?
What if Iím a contractor?
Iím sure Iím being discriminated against because Iím gay. What can I do about it?