Inside Our Proposal
This page will explain our proposal, clause-by-clause, detailing why we feel each part is important and necessary.
The existing language in the Equality Act of 2021:
The term ‘sexual orientation’ means homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.
This text is strict and limiting. Gay, straight, bi. That’s it. A person either fits into one of those three specific categories, or they’re not protected. There’s no room for interpretation, no room for a change in how we understand sexuality.
This wording does not even reflect the current understanding of the diversity of sexuality. The 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health by the Trevor Project says that “LGBTQ youth in the survey identified with more than 100 different combinations of terms to describe their sexual orientation.” This was a survey of over 40000 LGBTQIA+ people, aged 13-24. These are the people who will need to be protected by this law in the future. We need a law that will protect them, regardless of the language they use to describe themselves.
Our proposed replacement definition for sexual attraction is as follows:
“The term ‘sexual orientation’ means an individual’s actual or perceived romantic, emotional, physical or sexual attraction to other persons, or lack thereof, on the basis of gender. A continuum of sexual orientation exists and includes, but is not limited to, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, pansexuality, and aromanticism.”
Here is why we included each clause:
actual or perceived
The phrase “actual or perceived” closes a possible loophole in the original definition. Under the current wording in the bill, its protection could be argued to apply only in the case where the act of discrimination was done against someone who actually was gay, straight, or bi. If the discriminator was mistaken, for instance, if they refused to hire a straight person because they “looked gay”, then they could potentially get away with it under the original wording, because the person being discriminated against wasn’t actually gay.
romantic, emotional, physical or sexual attraction
This acknowledges that there are multiple types of attraction, and that people may not describe the attraction that they feel as “sexual” in nature.
or lack thereof
This recognizes that there are many people who may not experience certain kinds of attraction, or any attraction at all, and that in itself is a characteristic that needs protection under the law. The paper “Intergroup bias toward ‘Group X’ ” (Macinnis, C., & Hodson, G., 2012.) discusses negative attitudes toward asexual people, and how they might lead to discriminatory acts. Many of those same negative attitudes are held against aromantic people, as well.
A continuum of sexual orientation exists
This emphasizes that the concept of sexual orientation is not a rigid, well defined box, but rather, a widely varied diversity of experiences.
includes, but is not limited to
This clause makes it clear that the list that follows is not a strict and complete enumeration of protected classes, but rather a series of examples.
heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, pansexuality, and aromanticism
Here we have added asexuality, pansexuality, and aromanticism to the list from the original bill to make it clear that our intention is for these identities, and others like them, to be included by our expanded language.