Since 2007 it has been illegal for providers of services to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity when providing public services. This legislation which was reinforced by the Equality Act 2010 means that LGBT people cannot be discriminated against by public service providers including:
- Education (schools)
- Council services
- Social housing
- Emergency services
- Social services
- Public transport
All organisations in the public sector are covered by the legislation. LGBT people pay taxes like everyone else, so service providers such as hospitals, GPs and schools are obliged to treat everyone equally. A GP who refused to treat a man because he was gay would now be breaking the law, as would a hotel who refused to give a lesbian couple a double room.
The Public Sector Equality Duty
Under the Equality Act, public authorities are also required to go further in promoting equality for LGBT people and take a proactive approach to tackling discrimination, under the 'Public Sector Equality Duty'.
Public authorities need to ensure they comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty. Under the duty all public bodies need to have due regard to:
(a) eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act
(b) advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it – for example, heterosexual people and gay or bi people, or trans people and cis people
(c) foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it
This means that public bodies must now actively show they accommodate the needs of their LGBT service users in the design and delivery of public services like education, policing and housing. Public bodies will have to think in advance about the needs of different service users, involving and engaging local LGBT people, and set out what they’re doing to address those needs
Stonewall Scotland has produced A Guide For Public Authorities On Meeting the Public Sector Equality Duty. As well as guiding you through writing equality outcomes to tackle the barriers faced by LGBT people, this guide will show you how to find and use data on LGBT people’s experiences. It includes sample templates and equality outcomes to work with, and good practice we’ve gathered through working with public authorities all across Scotland.
Working with Stonewall Scotland
Stonewall currently work with over 400 public sector partners around the UK supporting them to take active steps to ensure the services they provide are fair for all, focused on practical outcomes that make a difference. You can find more details about our works with employers and education authorities through the links below:
Some helpful links
More information about the Public Sector Equality Duty in Scotland is available on the Equality & Human Rights Commission's website.