Equality: LGBTQ+ Focus

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Health Assured team

18 May 2020

Equality is ensuring that every individual possesses the same rights and has equal opportunities.


A key decade in the development of equality was the 1970’s, when Britain began to develop legislation that would protect certain groups of people from unfair discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 came into force on the 1st October 2010, consolidating over 116 separate pieces of legislation to harmonise the law in this area.


The Act provides a legislative framework to protect the rights of all individuals against any unfair treatment or discrimination, and to promote equality and diversity between people from different groups and backgrounds.


The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against another because of certain protected characteristics relating to; age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation.


The Act protects individuals from sexual orientation discrimination. This primarily protects lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals from discrimination, harassment and victimisation due to their sexual orientation. Gender reassignment is a separate protected characteristic under the Act and protects transgender individuals from being treated less favourably because they propose to, starts or has completed a process to change their gender.


Same Sex Marriage

The introduction of Legislation in England and Wales (the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013), and in Scotland (the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014) enabled same sex couples to legally marry and convert civil partnerships into marriage. This provides same sex couples the same legal rights as heterosexual marriages. The legislation also permits transgender individuals to change their legal gender status without having to end their existing marriage.


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland same-sex marriage laws have taken longer to develop than the rest of the United Kingdom. Whilst same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1982 and civil partnerships legal since 2005, same-sex couples have only been able to register to marry more recently. Same sex marriages became legally recognised in Northern Ireland on the 13th January 2020, under the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation Act etc.) Act 2019.


Pride Events

The LGBTQ+ rights movement has made significant progress over the past few decades, with the first Pride parade taking place in New York City in 1970. Since then, the recognition of LGBTQ+ rights have continued to develop, and communities have come together in celebration and unity through Pride events. These events are opportunities for like-minded individuals to join to celebrate who they are, and to continue to raise awareness by fighting for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Pride events now take place around the whole world, including various Pride events across the UK.


LGBTQ+ Current Challenges

On 19th October 2019, the Home Office published figures showing the growth in hate crime over the past year (2018-2019). Hate crime towards sexual orientation has increased by 25% and by 37% for transgender identity. The LGBTQ+ community continue to face physical and verbal abuse about who they are and what they believe in.


Hate crime can cause individuals to feel unsafe outside of their homes and it is therefore imperative that the community and workplaces make efforts to ensure people know they are welcome to express their whole self. For example, creating a dedicated LGBTQ+ group in the workplace to focus on generating awareness of current challenges allows individuals to feel comfortable and welcome, whilst striving for equality.



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