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Your Rights at Work


Many of the issues surrounding job hunting as a lesbian, gay or bisexual student or graduate are concerned with issues of disclosure - how much, if anything, to reveal to an employer, and at what stage in the selection process. Recent changes in legislation have made discrimination at work on the basis of sexual orientation illegal, but the issues you face are still intensely personal ones.

The legislation - your rights

The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations came into effect on 1 st December 2003 . These regulations protect lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the workplace against both direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of their sexuality. What is more, they cover all stages of employment, from applying for a job through to getting references when you leave, and include training, benefits and promotion. Look at the DTI website ( for more information and for a copy of the regulations.

Should you come out to an employer?

Discrimination at work on the basis of sexual orientation may now be illegal, but the law won't bring complete equality or stamp out homophobia overnight. Coming out is a personal decision, the outcome of which may affect your relationships at work and your attitudes towards an employer as well as your career prospects. Think hard about if and when you would come out at work - this is a personal decision and there is no legal obligation to do so.

Employers target applicants who have developed employability skills - who have done more than just obtained a degree certificate. If your major extra-curricular activities at university are centred around the LGB society, and you are happy to reveal your sexuality, then include these activities on your CV - employers will be interested in anything that you've done which demonstrates initiative or which has developed skills such as organisation, team building or leadership.

You may put yourself at a disadvantage if your extra-curricular activities centre around the LGB society, but you are not prepared to reveal your sexuality, as you will find it more difficult to use them as evidence of your transferable skills. You could mention the activities (eg. promotion of an event) without naming the society itself, but this weakens what you can say on an application and, at worst, can appear evasive.

Some organisations are openly LGB friendly employers, so prior research might help you to decide whether to come out, or not. Look out for :

Marketing yourself positively

Whether you decide to come out or not, there are many things that you can do to promote yourself when you are looking for a job :

Feel you have been discriminated against?

Contact the Careers Advisory Service for advice if you feel that you have been discriminated against on the basis of your sexual orientation.

Other sources of help

Available from AberPride society ( and the Careers Advisory Service (




REGARD (The National Organisation of Disabled Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals and Transgender People)

The Gay Business Association

The Gay Police Association

Armed Forces Lesbian and Gay Association (AFLaGA)

Pink Paper


'A Level Playing Field' (AGCAS) (click 'handling discrimination')

'Careers for Queers' (Oxford University Students Union [OUSU])

© Careers Advisory Service - September 2004

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