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Gender and Sexuality: Frequently Asked Questions

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 13 Jul 2012 | comments*Discuss
Gender And Sexuality: Frequently Asked Questions

Nobody can help whether they are born male or female and should never face discrimination because of their gender. Similarly, people should not be discriminated against because of their sexuality either.

Although there have been great strides towards equality in these areas, there is still a long way to go until everyone is treated equally. If you are unsure about your rights then read our frequently asked questions to improve your understanding.

What is Gender Discrimination?

Gender discrimination is more commonly called sexism and is when a person faces unfair treatment because of their gender. Usually, it is women who find themselves discriminate against but you shouldn’t forget that men may also be victimised. The Sex Discrimination gives both genders equal rights in the workplace.

What is Sexuality?

Sexuality refers to a person’s sexual orientation – whether they are attracted to men or women. So, if a person is a lesbian, gay, or bisexual then this should not be used to discriminate against them in the workplace. There are laws in regulations in place to govern this but they are not as easily defined as gender issues and can be more difficult to put in place.

How do I Know if I am Being Discriminated Against?

There are a number of different types of discrimination: direct, where, for example, a job ad states that the person must be male or straight; indirect, where the role is made difficult or impossible for certain genders or harassment. Harassment refers to any jokes, comments or treatment about your gender or sexuality that makes you feel uncomfortable.

What Can I do About Discrimination?

If you feel you are being discriminated against then you must speak up as it should not be tolerated. Try to talk directly to the person who is the problem and explain your feelings and concerns.

If they don’t change then keep a log of all the behaviour, what is said and done and when. Then go through your company’s grievance procedure and if that doesn’t work, then seek advice from a union representative or ACAS and consider going to an employment tribunal.

Is it Ever OK to Discriminate on the Basis of Gender or Sexuality?

In some cases, where there is a legitimate reason to do so, employers can give a role to a person of a certain gender or sexuality over another. Such reasons would include a female who is needed to look after an all girl dormitory or a gay man needed to offer his experiences on sexuality in an advice clinic.

As a society we have generally become more liberal and accepting about people’s sexualities and the rights of women. However, unfortunately, there is still discrimination out there that you may face. Whether you feel you are being treated because of your gender or because of your sexual orientation, it is unacceptable. Unless your employer has a true legitimate reason for their actions then you should stand up for yourself and your rights. Gender and sexuality is part of who you are and you should not be penalised for being you.

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I've noticed that the option of 'asexual' is not included on forms asking for 'sexuality' - this appears to be because sexuality is defined in terms of "whether they are attracted to men or women", and asexuals are attracted to neither.If one is asexual, and discriminated against as a result, does this count as sexual discrimination?
inamac - 13-Jul-12 @ 4:59 PM
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