Home > Equality & Gender > Sexual Discrimination in the UK and Abroad

Sexual Discrimination in the UK and Abroad

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 1 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
Sex gender sexism sexism sexist sex

Sexual discrimination, also known as sexism, still persists in societies around the world. In the United Kingdom there are laws that prohibit sexual discrimination in specific situations, but laws can not mandate the way that individuals think and they also can not enforce themselves - society must be disgusted with sexual discrimination and motivated to enforce these laws to ensure equal treatment for individuals of both sexes/genders. Many individuals in the UK understand that to treat individuals differently on account of sex/gender is unfair, but are unaware of the broad picture of sexual discrimination. Below are some basic answers to frequently asked questions about sexual discrimination.

What Is Sexual Discrimination?

Sexual discrimination is the unfair treatment of, or outright hatred of, individuals of a certain sex/gender. Sometimes sexual discrimination is described at the organisational level, as a system or policy of treating one sex/gender unfairly. Sexual discrimination may be practiced to benefit one sex/gender, or simply because one sex/gender is thought to be inferior.

Does Sexual Discrimination Only Affect Women?

No. Sexual discrimination can be practiced against both sexes/genders, though it is most often related to discrimination against women. Sexual discrimination may also be practiced against transgender individuals, or those who have undergone, are undergoing or will undergo gender reassignment.

Is Sexual Discrimination Illegal?

Yes. A variety of laws work to provide equal rights to males and females in the United Kingdom. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 protects individuals from being discriminated against in employment, vocational training, education, the provision and sale of goods, facilities and services, premises and the exercise of public functions due to their sex/gender. The Equal Pay Act of 1970 mandates equal pay for equal work regardless of an individual's sex/gender. The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 also protect the rights of individuals who intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment. These Regulations pertain to pay and treatment in employment, self-employment and vocational training.

Is Sexual Discrimination Illegal Across the World?

No. Not every nation has laws on their books to outlaw sexual discrimination and ensure equal rights regardless of sex/gender. Generally this is because women's rights are not protected around the world. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international standard relating to women's rights, but it is not necessarily legally enforceable even in the countries which have signed and ratified it. CEDAW is an important document as it does multiple things to fight sexual discrimination. It defines discrimination against women and includes advice on national action plans for ending discrimination against women.

Most notably the countries which have ratified CEDAW have agreed to add the principle of equality of the sexes to their justice system (both by abolishing discriminatory laws and adding laws guaranteeing equality), establish public bodies to protect the rights of women and work to eliminate acts of discrimination against women by individuals and organisations. The United Kingdom signed the Convention in 1981 and ratified it in 1986.

Are There Organisations Working Against Sexual Discrimination in the UK?

Yes, and reporting instances and examples of sexual discrimination to organisations working for equal rights may also help to eradicate such behaviours. The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Women and Equality Unit (www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk) are both organisations that strive for equality and fight against sexual discrimination in the United Kingdom.

Can I Make A Difference In the Fight Against Sexual Discrimination?

Absolutely. Fighting sexual discrimination does not need to be about grand gestures and making headlines. Instead, every time an individual reconsiders a stereotype, speaks out against discrimination, ceases to make sexist jokes and references, tells others that such jokes and references are unacceptable, and does all that (s)he can to learn from the talents of each individual, regardless of sex/gender, then discrimination is being fought. Hopefully sexual discrimination will soon become a thing of the past, but until then everyone can play a part in helping it to end.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • mics
    Re: Questionnaire: Experienced Discrimination School?
    hello Good morning my name is Mico john Hernander 17 years old from manila. Im so happy to make comment…
    12 August 2019
  • Lala
    Re: Your Rights in the Workplace
    Senior management.. often scream and shout at the team. Things not investigated before the blame game starts. Staff behaviours…
    13 July 2019
  • Ali
    Re: Your Rights in the Workplace
    I work at M&S Distribution Centre in the East Midlands and only started working there since the beginning of May 2019, previously…
    8 July 2019
  • Jas
    Re: Your Rights in the Workplace
    Hey I have had trouble at my work I had my manger pull down my shorts at work I then put a grievance in about because I wasn’t…
    18 June 2019
  • Jas
    Re: Your Rights in the Workplace
    Hey I have had trouble at my work I had my manger pull down my shorts at work I then put a grievance in about because I wasn’t…
    18 June 2019
  • Jake250
    Re: Your Rights in the Workplace
    Is my boss aloud to swear and shout down the phone at me? He was quite foul and threatened my job , I’ve worked for the company…
    5 June 2019
  • Donna
    Re: Your Rights in the Workplace
    My area manager in my chemist where I work never felt so disgusted in my life and to be treated in that way is just shocking. I'm…
    13 May 2019
  • Coley
    Re: Your Rights in the Workplace
    Are managers legally aloud to scream shout at people making them feel scared and uneasy, and are they allowed to push and pester…
    3 August 2018
  • Mickey
    Re: Confronting Indirect Racism
    Hectoring jus because you have ethnic minorities in your extended family does not make you less racist. Just as much as a man being…
    31 March 2018
  • Nikki84
    Re: Your Rights in the Workplace
    I am a mobile care and support worker my supervisor rang me to ask a question I was polite she was polite 1 minute later my…
    27 February 2018