Genuine occupational circumstances

In limited situations, it may be lawful for an employer to discriminate if there is a genuine occupational requirement for the jobholder to be of a particular sexual orientation.


A charity delivering domestic violence services to lesbians, bisexual women, gay men and transgender people advertises for a gay caseworker to deliver services to its gay clients. The post is restricted to gay applicants because the charity believes that a particular sexual orientation is a genuine occupational requirement for the post. The charity considers that heterosexual men would not have an in-depth understanding of the cultural and domestic violence experiences of gay men. The charity restricts other caseworker posts to lesbian and bisexual women and transgender people for the same reasons. Other posts that do not require this kind of in-depth understanding, such as administrative posts, are open to people of all genders and sexual orientations. This type of discrimination could be lawful.


A Church of England bishop blocked the appointment of a woman to a youth worker job funded by the church because she was a lesbian. The job involved working with teenage girls. The bishop felt that it was not appropriate to have a lesbian working with teenage girls. The recruitment panel had already decided that the woman was the most suitable candidate for the post, which was restricted to women. Her references were also excellent. The post was restricted to women as a genuine occupational requirement. The decision not to offer the post to a lesbian is direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Last Updated: 25 Jun 2009