The Equality Act 2010 has consolidated UK equality law and set out a duty to ensure that all public sector organisations take into account the needs of people with protected characteristics when designing and delivering services. Monitoring for protected characteristics, including sexual orientation, is essential if organisations are to prove that they are meeting these requirements.

The LGF’s new campaign aims to get lesbian, gay and bisexual people to understand why it’s important to be asked their sexual orientation and enable them to be confident in ‘ticking the box’.

As well as speaking to LGB people, the LGF were commissioned by NHS Northwest to produce a guide for service providers to improve their sexual orientation monitoring; ‘Everything you always wanted to know about sexual orientation monitoring… but were afraid to ask’. The guide aims to encourage public sector organisations to take the lead in implementing sexual orientation monitoring, by highlighting the benefits for organisations, staff and service users.

Heather Williams, Policy & Research Coordinator at the LGF says “Being asked to tick a box for your sexual orientation should be similar to being asked if you are married or your age – it’s a part of your identity that affects your life but doesn’t necessarily define who you are. If publicly funded services don’t count how many lesbian, gay or bisexual people are using the service then LGB people’s needs and experience won’t be included.”

One gay man responding to the publication of the guide commented; “I was amazed to see a question on sexual orientation was included alongside other questions about age, gender, ethnicity etc on a survey from my GP. It made me feel proud to tick that box! Knowing that sexual orientation is recognised as important by my GP made me feel important to them.”

The LGF have produced an online information resource to help lesbian, gay and bisexual people to understand more about sexual orientation monitoring. They are urging people to take part in their poll to see if after learning more, they would ‘tick the box’ next time.

For more information visit www.lgf.org.uk/tickthebox

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