What you can do

Discrimination as a consumer

What does the legislation say?

The Equality Act 2010 aims to ensure that providers of goods, facilities and services cannot discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

What do the regulations cover?

  • Education (schools)
  • Healthcare
  • Restaurants
  • Housing
  • Hotels
  • Campsites
  • Shops
  • Leisure centres

For example:

Education

  • Schools cannot refuse to take a student because they, or their parents, are lesbian, gay, bi or trans.
  • Schools cannot deny a lesbian, gay, bi or trans student opportunities and facilities that they would offer to heterosexual or cis (non-trans) students, for example the chance to be head girl.
  • Schools must respect a student's gender identity. They should use their preferred pronouns and allow them to use the toilets and single sex facilities appropriate to the gender they identify with. 

Healthcare

  • GPs cannot refuse to see a patient because they are lesbian, gay, bi or trans.
  • Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people must be assessed fairly for the treatments they need.

Housing

  • A housing agent cannot turn away a tenant or refuse to sell or rent their property to someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Councils should act to tackle the homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse of a council tenant, just as they would act to tackle racist abuse.

Businesses

  • A hotel or B&B cannot refuse a same-sex couple a double-room
  • A non-religious wedding venue cannot refuse to host a civil partnership or same-sex marriage
  • A clothes shop must allow trans women to use the female changing room

Exceptions for sexual orientation and gender identity

The Equality Act does allow for LGBT people to be treated differently in certain, very limited and exceptional circumstances. In general, these exceptions only apply in situations where full inclusion has been sought but is not possible and the decision to exclude an LGBT person must be clearly justified. If necessary, it's the courts which will decide if discrimination can be justified. If you feel you have been treated unfairly but are not sure if its discrimination, please get in touch with Stonewall's Information Service.

Other useful sources of support 

You can find local LGBT-friendly solicitors and other useful contacts through Stonewall's online database What's In My Area.

For further information you can fill out our enquiry form, call Stonewall's Information Service on 08000 502020, tweet to @StonewallUKInfo or email info@stonewall.org.uk