Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation Inequality in Wales

The Facts

Wales Stats[1] estimates that there are approximately 34,500 Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people (LGB) living in Wales as of 2013 (1% of the population). In Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan area, the number estimated of people identifying as LGB was 12,100 (3% of the population of Cardiff). In Cardiff 92% and in Wales 93% identified themselves as heterosexual/straight. 1% of people in Cardiff and 2% of the entire population of Wales responded with “Don’t know” or declined to answer. According to the 2010 report from the Office for National StatisticS[2], people identifying as LGB were more likely to be educated to a degree level (38.1%) than their heterosexual counterparts (21.9%). They were also more likely to be in employment (74.8%) than those identifying as straight (68.6%). Furthermore 80.4% of LGB people living in Britain reported to be in good health compared to 78.8% of people identifying as heterosexual. Data from the Equality and Human Rights Commission[3] reports that LGB adults are around twice as likely to report experiencing unfair treatment, discrimination, bullying or harassment at work as other employees.

Does sexual orientation discrimination apply to me?

Legal protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation applies to everyone, whatever their sexual orientation[4]. Sexual orientation discrimination includes being treated less favourably because:

  • You are lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight
  • People think you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight, or
  • You are associated with someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight. For example: a friend, relative or colleague

The law applies to direct and indirect discrimination as well as to harassment and victimization. The law applies to the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Know Your Rights

Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is defined as:

  • Orientation towards people of the same gender (lesbians and gay men)
  • Orientation towards people of the opposite gender (heterosexual)
  • Orientation towards people of the same gender and other genders (bisexual).

The Act applies to goods and services, all employment and vocational training and includes recruitment, terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, dismissals and training. The Act makes it unlawful on the grounds of sexual orientation to:

  • Discriminate directly against anyone and to treat them less favourably than others because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; for example not promoting an employee purely on the basis that they are gay.
  • Discriminate indirectly – to apply a criterion, provision or practice which disadvantages people of a particular sexual orientation, unless it can be objectively justified; for example a occupational requirement and crucial to the post. An example of this could be a particular policy for maternity / paternity leave does not apply to same sex couples.
  • Subject someone to harassment – harassment is unwanted conduct that violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
  • Victimise someone because they have made or intend to make a compliant or allegation in relation to a complaint of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

It is as unlawful to discriminate against heterosexual people as it is to discriminate against lesbians, gay men and bisexual people[5].


  1. Sexual identity by area and identity status.
  2. Gay Britain.
  3. Sexual Orientation Discrimination.