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LGBT and Sexual Diversity Discrimination Laws

Updated/Revised Date: 3rd Feb 2023
Author: Sexual Diversity | Contact:
Additional References: Discrimination and Abuse Publications

Synopsis: Information regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender including sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination.


Sexual Discrimination

Sexual orientation discrimination (sexualism) is discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or sexual behavior. Sexual orientation discrimination is when you are treated differently because of your sexual orientation. It usually refers to a predisposition towards heterosexual people, which is biased against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. This is specifically referred to as heterosexism. A related term is a sexual prejudice, a negative attitude towards someone because of their sexual orientation. This bias is the same as homophobia, as it discriminates against specific sexual orientations. Other related terms include Asexual discrimination, Transphobia, Homophobia, Antisexualism, Sexism, Sexualization, Heteronormativity, Biphobia, and Heterosexism.

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Deeply-embedded homophobic and transphobic attitudes, often combined with a lack of adequate legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, expose many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of all ages and in all regions of the world to egregious violations of their human rights.

Sexism or gender discrimination based on gender or sex is a common civil rights violation. Discrimination based on gender takes many forms; including sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and unequal pay for women who do the same jobs as men.

Sex discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of that person's sex. Sex discrimination also can involve treating someone less favorably because of their connection with an organization or group that is generally associated with people of a certain sex.

Discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender is discrimination because of sex in violation of Title VII. Transgender discrimination is discrimination towards people whose gender identity differs from the social expectations of the biological sex they were born with. This is also known as gender identity discrimination. In addition, lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals may bring sex discrimination claims. These may include, for example, allegations of sexual harassment or other kinds of sex discrimination, such as adverse actions taken because of the person's non-conformance with sex stereotypes.

U.S. law forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. The victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be of the same sex.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is part of Title VII, but it is often mentioned on its own. The Act prohibits employers from discriminating against women because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers is pervasive and harmful. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) allows Congress to ensure workplace equality by protecting LGBT workers from employment discrimination. ENDA is pending federal legislation prohibiting employment discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Currently, fewer than a third of all U.S. states have laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Only a handful prohibit discrimination based on a person's gender identity or expression. There are no federal protections for LGBT civil rights.

New England has led the journey toward LGBT civil rights. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont all have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Non-discrimination laws in Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

Protecting LGBT people from violence and discrimination does not require creating a new set of LGBT-specific rights, nor does it require establishing new international human rights standards. The legal obligations of States to safeguard the human rights of LGBT people are well established in international human rights law based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequently agreed international human rights treaties.

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Latest Discrimination and Abuse Publications

The above information is from our reference library of material relating to Discrimination and Abuse that includes:

Lack of Sexually Injuries Does Not Mean Rape Victim Is Making It Up thumbnail image.
A new study reveals the absence of sexually related injuries cannot be used in court to infer that rape victims are making it up.
Publish Date: 8th Oct 2023
Why Sexually Harassed People Might Not Come Forward Immediately or at All thumbnail image.
What would a reasonable person do? Exploring the gap between experienced and anticipated responses to sexual harassment.
Publish Date: 10th Jun 2023
Some LGBT Allies Don't Want Gay Neighbors thumbnail image.
Study explores stigmatizing behaviors expressed by avid supporters of sexual minorities in a survey 8.5% who said they were fully accepting of gay people did not want gay neighbors.
Publish Date: 6th Mar 2023
Moderate Intoxication Does Not Impair Sexual Assault Recall thumbnail image.
Women can recall details of sexual assault and rape with accuracy, even if they have drunk, or expected to drink, moderate amounts of alcohol.
Publish Date: 1st Feb 2023 - Updated: 3rd Feb 2023
American States Have Vague Inconsistent Hate Crime Legislation thumbnail image.
Study provides a content analysis of race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and disability hate crime legislation in America.
Publish Date: 18th Jan 2023

1How Many Genders Are There?
Alphabetical list of gender identities.

2Transgender Reporting Guide
How to write about transgender people.

3Glossary of Sexuality Terms
Definitions of sexual terms & acronyms.

4Glossary of Sexual Identities
Definitions of gender related terms.

5Am I Gay? Questions to Ask
Think you may be gay or bisexual?

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• (APA): (2023, February 3). LGBT and Sexual Diversity Discrimination Laws. Retrieved May 24, 2024 from

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