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LGBT and Sexual Diversity Discrimination Laws

Updated/Revised Date: 16th Jul 2022
Author: Sexual Diversity | Contact:
Additional References: Sexual Discrimination 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 Sexual Discrimination Publications

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

Virginity is a problematic concept worth revisiting and revising.
Author: Tsara Shelton
Publish Date: 15th Oct 2022 - Updated: 21st Nov 2022

More than 200,000 transgender citizens could face barriers to voting in the 2022 midterm elections.
Author: The Williams Institute
Publish Date: 15th Sep 2022 - Updated: 21st Oct 2022

Sex workers, when given respect and a safe working environment, can help us thrive sexually.
Author: Tsara Shelton
Publish Date: 18th Jul 2022 - Updated: 6th Sep 2022

285,000 American Indian and Alaskan Native LGBT adults live in the US. More than half have been physically or sexually attacked in their lifetimes.
Author: The Williams Institute
Publish Date: 21st Oct 2021

An estimated 11% of LGBTQ adults in the U.S. approximately 1.2 million people identify as nonbinary, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. The majority of them are under age 29, urban, and white.
Author: The Williams Institute
Publish Date: 23rd Jun 2021

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2Transgender Reporting Guide
How to write about transgender people.

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

4Glossary of Gender Terms
Definitions of gender related terms.

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

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• (APA): (2022, July 16). LGBT and Sexual Diversity Discrimination Laws. Retrieved December 2, 2022 from

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