university of technology sydney

Discrimination And Sexual Orientation


Sexual orientation is the romantic or sexual attraction that a person feels towards another person. There are four orientations: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and asexual orientations. Heterosexuality involves a person’s attraction for the opposite gender. On the other hand, people who feel romantically attracted to people of their gender, such as a man being attracted to a man, are referred to as homosexuals. In other cases, an individual can feel attracted to persons of both genders, a sexual orientation called bisexuality. Some people do not fall into any of these categories. These individuals usually feel no or negligible romantic or sexual attraction to persons of either gender. These individuals are referred to as asexual.

Sexual orientation forms basis of discrimination at work places and social places in different places of the world. This discrimination occurs because majority people in certain set up are of a certain sexual orientation and they do not appreciate any other sexual orientation. Forms of discrimination that occur on the basis of sexual orientation include difference in treatment (which could be direct or indirect), harassment, denial of benefits and victimisation.

The work place is an environment where people are likely to experience sexual orientation discrimination in terms of difference in the treatment they receive. A direct way of this discrimination involves less favourable treatment. Therefore, you find that a person of a certain sexual orientation does not get promoted or does not receive bonuses despite his good performance. On the other hand, an indirect form of different treatment at the work place could be enacting of provisions and criteria that disadvantage people of a certain sexual orientation. An example of such a provision is denying homosexuals a paternity or maternity leave.

The other type of sexual orientation discrimination, harassment, occurs in the form of unwelcome conduct that degrades the dignity of the victim, intimidates, humiliates or offends the victim. Examples of such unwelcome behaviour include sexual jokes, inappropriate touching, drawing of pictures that portray a certain sexual orientation negatively and persistent presentation of sexual advances. While sticking to the scenario of sexual orientation discrimination at a work place, an individual can suffer by being denied his rightful benefits. Examples of such benefits at the work place include health insurance for a same sex partner. This is quite bad especially considering that people with opposite sex partners are able to get health insurance for their partners.

Another form of discrimination is victimisation when a person of a certain sexual orientation tries to make a complaint. This victimisation occurs despite the person being clearly wronged and there being provisions for such reporting.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is very demeaning. It is important for companies and leaders in the society to create provisions that create conducive environments for people of all sexual orientations. As a result, everyone would be productive at work and comfortable with his or her lifestyle.