Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic relating to a person's sexual orientation towards people of:
- The same sex as him or her (the person is a gay man or a lesbian).
- The opposite sex from him or her (the person is heterosexual).
- Both sexes (the person is bisexual).
The Equality Act replaced the provisions of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 and the Equality Act 2006. The law prohibits discrimination that is direct or indirect and whether it is based on a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation. For example, protection is provided if someone uses homophobic banter (i.e. comments, words or actions/gestures that refer negatively to gay, lesbian or bisexual people) to a colleague who is presumed to be gay but is in fact heterosexual.
The University is a proud member of the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme and was included in the Top 100 Employers list in 2011, 2012 and 2013, being ranked the highest performing higher education institution in the UK. The University is also featured in Stonewall's Gay by Degree, a guide for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual students on higher education institutions.
- Support is provided to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Trans staff members of the University, College or associated institution through the LGB&T Staff Network.
Support for Students is provided by the CUSU LBGT Campaign.
The University has produced Thinking Globally, which provides information for LGB&T staff and students working and studying at home and abroad.
Protection against sexual orientation discrimination has developed through recent cases: