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Frequently Asked Questions on Sexual Orientation

Q1. What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation is the term used to describe the gender of the people who you are romantically or sexually attracted to.

The majority of people are heterosexual, meaning they are romantically and sexually attracted to people of a different gender to themselves. Some people are attracted to people of the same gender to themselves, these people are homosexual. Other people are attracted to more than one gender, these people are bisexual.

Q2 Should the University have to ask about someone’s sexuality at interview ?

No. Interviews are about finding out if someone has the right skills for the job. Personal questions should not be asked at interview unless it is to make sure that appropriate adjustments are made for someone with a disability.

Q3 Does the University collect data on sexual orientation?

We know collect this data for new staff and students, existing staff will have the opportunity to provide this information in the next Data Cleansing Exercise.

Q4 What about transgender people ?

Gender reassignment is a separate issue and unrelated to sexual orientation despite a general misunderstanding that the two issues are part of the same picture.

It is unlawful to discriminate against or harass anyone on the grounds that they intend to undergo gender reassignment. The Equality Act 2010 protects anyone who is intending to undergo, is undergoing, or has undergone gender reassignment even if they have not had or do not intend to have any medical gender reassignment treatments.

Please see University's Policy on Gender Reassignment.

Q5 I am being harassed by my colleagues because of my sexual orientation. Must I use the internal Bullying and Harassment Policy before making an Employment Tribunal claim?

It is usually quicker and easier to deal with issues as close to the problem as possible. Also the University may be unaware that there is a problem, unless you raise it at the time. You are advised to use the internal procedure first, We have introduced an Online Reporting Form but if you are still dissatisfied you can still make a claim to an Employment Tribunal.

Q6 What is a civil partnership?

Civil Partnership is a new legal relationship, which can be formed by two people of the same sex. It gives same sex couples the ability to obtain legal recognition for their relationship. Couples who form a civil partnership will have a new legal status – that of “civil partner”.

Same-sex couples who form a civil partnership will have parity of treatment in a wide range of legal matters with those opposite-sex couples who enter into a civil marriage.

The rights and responsibilities civil partners will have include:

  • A duty to provide reasonable maintenance for their civil partner and any children of the family;

  • Ability to apply for parental responsibility for their civil partner’s child;

  • Equitable treatment for the purposes of assessment for child support; life assurance; tax, including inheritance tax; employment and pension benefits; inheritance of a tenancy agreement;

  • Recognition under intestacy rules;

  • Access to fatal accidents compensation;

  • Protection from domestic violence; and

  • Recognition for immigration and nationality purposes

Q7 Is it true that someone can make a harassment claim based on an inaccurate perception of their sexual orientation?

Yes, any harassment based on sexual orientation is covered by the Regulations. For example, a worker who is harassed by their colleagues or manager on an inaccurate suspicion of or speculation about their sexual orientation has grounds for complaint. Similarly, the Regulations will protect a worker who is discriminated against because they associate with people from a particular sexual orientation.