Equality for Freelancers: Sexual Orientation

11th January, 2011

The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation in the workplace. Defining the workplace, as freelancers, can mean doing a shift, working with a permanent contract or selling a single image or some copy. And, it also means where we gather our news for example, it may be in the street while replying to questions from the police. Please contact the Branch equality officer (Tel: 020 7247 5393) for further clarity.

There are several clauses in the 2003 Regulations:

  • It’s unlawful to treat people less favourably than others on grounds of sexual orientation or to instruct someone else to behave in this way.
  • Indirect discrimination involves applying a practice, provision or criterion which intentionally or not, disadvantages people of a particular sexual orientation, unless it can be justified, as an example, counselling.
  • Harassment involves subjecting a person to unwanted conduct that violates their dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. And, harassment does not have to be intentional to be unlawful. Employers must act to protect people from bullying or harassment.
  • A person can’t be victimised, in any way, because they’ve made, or intend to make, a complaint about discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
  • The Regulations apply to those working wholly , or partly, in the UK, as well as those working abroad, as long as the employer has a place of business in the UK and the work is for the purpose of that business.
  • The Regulations cover all lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual people, even if a heterosexual person is discriminated against because he / she is mistakenly thought to be gay, lesbian or bisexual.
  • These Regulations don’t cover trans people. There are specific regulations that provide protection for trans people under the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 and gender recognition Act 2005.
  • There is no legal requirement forcing employers to take positive action. Trade unions can legally provide training specifically aimed at gay, lesbian or bisexual members in order to encourage participation in the trade union thereby, redressing an existing imbalance.
  • There is no requirement under the law for organisations to collect monitoring data on the sexual orientation of staffers or contributors. Any pressure to force a person to disclose their sexual orientation may well be considered to be harassment under the regulations and a breach of the Human Rights Act.

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  1. Beauty says:


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