Civil partnerships and marriage
It is possible for Gay and Lesbian couples to register a civil partnership, which gives them many of the same rights as a married couple. The Equality Act of 2010 protects employees who are in a civil partnership, or marriage, against discrimination.
Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of being in a civil partnership or marriage. Indirect discrimination can occur when an employer has a condition, rule, policy or a practice in a company that applies to everyone but will disadvantage people who are in a civil partnership or marriage. Indirect discrimination can be justified only if an employer makes a lawful decision in running a business or organisation and this decision is fair and reasonable and they can show they have looked at less discriminatory alternatives.
Questions and answers
Am I protected from discrimination because of sexual orientation?
Yes, the Equality Act 2010 gives protection from discrimination because of sexual orientation. This includes orientation towards someone of the same sex (lesbian or gay men), opposite sex (heterosexual) or both sexes (bisexual)'.
The law means that an organisation's recruitment and selection procedures, as well as employment policies must not discriminate because of sexual orientation.
Do civil partnerships have the same rights as married couples?
Same-sex couples who register as civil partners have the right to equal treatment with married couples in a wide range of matters including employment and vocational training. Whatever benefits married employees and their spouses are given must be provided to employees who are civil partners and to their civil partners. This includes survivor pensions, flexible working, statutory paternity pay, paternity and adoption leave, health insurance or time off before or after marriage / registration.
What can I do if I think I've been discriminated against?
If you feel you've been discriminated against, you'll be able to bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal. However, it's best to talk to your employer first to try to sort out the matter informally, in order to minimise the negative effects on all parties involved.
Through the Acas Helpline (08457 47 47 47) you can get advice on specific problems, and explore alternatives to an Employment Tribunal claim, such as mediation or Pre-Claim Conciliation, where appropriate.
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