OUR RIGHTS AS LESBIANS ARE PROTECTED BY LAW
The first law that protects us is in the UK Equality Act (2010). This law protects us as the female sex. The second law in the Equality Act that protects us is sexual orientation – that is orientation towards our own sex. These two laws protect our rights as lesbians to have emotional and sexual relationships with females only (if you are 16 or over) and our rights to be treated fairly.
Discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because they are part of a specific group. As a lesbian, there are a number of ways you might experience discrimination in your school, college, work, or social life:
Bullying of young lesbians often takes place in schools. Gender non-conforming lesbians can be bullied and isolated for not conforming to feminine stereotypes in the way they look. Schools should have anti-homophobic bullying policies and policies that challenge such sexist stereotypes. But being a ‘tomboy ’is no longer seen as acceptable in many schools. If you are being bullied at school contact us for advice.
Single Sex Spaces
You have the legal right to single sex spaces for women and girls, for example:
• Toilets and changing facilities;
• Sleeping facilities e.g. single sex accommodation on school/youth trips, in hospitals and women’s refuges;
• Sports teams and competitions;
• Medical appointments or procedures.
We believe it is important to define the differences between sex and gender because recognition of biological sex is necessary in defining and protecting same-sex attraction, specifically lesbianism.
As sex is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, males who hold a gender recognition certificate or self-define as the opposite sex, do not have the automatic legal right to access these private female spaces, and you have the right to voice any concerns about this.
Lesbians also have the legal right to get together in female only spaces e.g. in lesbian meetups. (Human Rights Act – freedom of assembly)
Setting up your own association, or club
As young women and lesbians you are legally entitled to set up your own association or membership club, so you can create your own boundaries and exclude people who are not lesbian. An example of a membership club is the Lesbian History Group in London.
On the other hand, women and lesbians can legally be excluded from male clubs or associations.
Sexual Harassment And Crime Against Lesbians
Discrimination against lesbians often takes place in the form of sexual harassment from men and boys. This should be reported to an adult you trust, or to the police, if you have been sexually assaulted – eg if a boy or man tries to touch your breasts or other parts of your body. It is also a crime if a boy or man flashes his penis at you.
Other forms of sexual harassment could look like:
- A man or boy continuously asking you on a date or referring to you in a sexual way when it is known that you are a lesbian
- Heterosexual couplings persisting in asking you for a threesome
- Showing you or asking you about ‘lesbian’ pornography
- Asking you for intimate details about your romantic or sexual life.
Hate Crime Online And Direct Threats And Abuse
Some lesbians experience online threats through twitter or other social media sites – or experience direct physical or sexual threats and abuse. These are known as hate crimes as being lesbian or gay is covered by hate crime law. You can report this hate crime to the police.
If you have experienced any of the above you can also report your experience here https://www.lesbianmetoo.com/
Lesbian Refugees/Asylum seekers
In some countries being lesbian is illegal – and lesbians who have fled their own countries because of this have the legal right to claim asylum in this country. This is not easy to do. If you need to claim asylum you can contact these support organisations.
London and south-east
North of England https://www.lisg.uk