Discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression

The Equality Act prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. In the Equality Act, the phrase 'gender identity' refers to an individual's experience of their own gender, while the phrase 'gender expression' refers to expressing one's gender through clothing, behaviour, or by other means.

The regulations on discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression are also applied to discrimination which is based on the fact that an individual's physical gender-defining characteristics are not unambiguously female or male.

Discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression can be direct or indirect:

  • Direct discrimination is treating someone differently on the basis of gender identity or gender expression.
     
  • Indirect discrimination is treating someone differently by virtue of a provision, justification or practice that seems to be neutral with regards to gender identity or gender expression, but as a result of which the persons concerned would in effect be put in a disadvantageous position on the basis of gender.

    The actions are not, however, considered indirect discrimination if they are aimed at achieving an acceptable objective and if the chosen means must be deemed appropriate and necessary in view of this objective.


Sexual harassment and harassment based on gender, gender identity and gender expression are also defined as discrimination and prohibited under the Equality Act.

Harassment based on a person's gender identity or gender expression is unwanted behaviour relating to these characteristics which

  • is of a non-sexual nature and
     
  • by which the person’s psychological or physical integrity is intentionally or factually violated and an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive atmosphere is created.


The Equality Act contains specific prohibitions against discrimination in working life, educational institutions, interest groups, and in the provision of goods and services.  In these situations (sections 8, 8 a–8 e of the Equality Act) the person who has suffered from discrimination may claim compensation in a district court.

The Equality Act, discrimination and gender diversity (STM, 2016)

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