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Inadvertent Conversation About Sexual Orientation

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[Thanks to Sarah Russell of Ventura for preparing this case summary]

The Court of Appeal has handed down its decision in Grant v HM Land Registry, which is authority for the proposition that idle conversation about someone being gay, when he has already made it public, will not, without more, constitute discrimination. 

The claimant was gay. He had been 'out' at Lytham Land Registry office. On transferring to the Coventry office he did not reveal his homosexuality. His new manager mentioned his sexual orientation to a colleague at Coventry. The Court of Appeal found that as his manager had no ill purpose, then there could be no direct discrimination or harassment. 

Elias LJ emphasised that even if the claimant was upset by the disclosure, the effect did not amount to harassment, and tribunals ought not to allow trivial acts to be caught by the concept. 'Outing' someone could, however, be an act of direct discrimination and harassment in other circumstances.