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New research finds gay and bisexual men still earn less

Published: 30 July 2021 at 00:01

Man working on a laptop

Academics discover discrepancies in earnings despite anti-discrimination legislation

A new study has found that gay and bisexual men are still earning less than heterosexual men despite legislation aimed at reducing discrimination in the workplace.

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) analysed 24 studies published between 2012 and 2020 covering countries in Europe, North America and Australia.

Their analysis, published in the Journal of Population Economics, found that gay men earned on average 6.8% less than heterosexual men across all countries covered in the study. 

Bisexual men earned 10.3% less than heterosexual men on average, while bisexual women earned 5.1% less than heterosexual women. Lesbian women earned 7.1% more than heterosexual women.

In the UK, gay and bisexual men together earned 4.7% less than heterosexual men, and in the USA they earned 10.9% less.

In the UK, workplace prejudice against individuals due to their sexual orientation or sex is prohibited under the Equality Act of 2010. However, despite this legislation, the research suggests that gay men and bisexual men and women still earn less than their heterosexual counterparts.

Professor Nick Drydakis, author of the study and Director of the Centre for Pluralist Economics at ARU, said:

“The persistence of earnings penalties for gay men and bisexual men and women in the face of anti-discrimination policies represents a cause for concern.  
“Legislation and workplace guidelines should guarantee that people receive the same pay and not experience any form of workplace bias simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity status. 

“Inclusive policies should embrace diversity by encouraging under-represented groups to apply for jobs or promotions and providing support to LGBTIQ+ employees to raise concerns and receive fair treatment.

“Standing against discrimination and celebrating and supporting LGBTIQ+ diversity should form a part of HR policies.”