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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Wales: Sexual orientation discrimination
Mark Hannaby
Mark Hannaby
The Politics Show Wales

Chief Constable Barbara Wilding
Chief Constable Wilding: Wales lags behind

Wales lags behind other parts of the UK in accepting differences in sexual orientation, according to South Wales Police Chief Constable Barbara Wilding.

Ms Wilding told The Politics Show: "I think in Wales, certainly from the area that I police, there is perhaps some way to go yet in comparison to other parts of the country."

Discrimination at work on grounds of sexual orientation was specifically outlawed three years ago.

Despite this, the Chief Constable says some workplaces are not complying with the law.

Her comments come on the eve of a new project by gay rights organisation Stonewall Cymru to raise awareness of discrimination against gay people in Welsh workplaces.

A Stonewall Cymru survey found 25% of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people in Wales reported having been sacked because of their sexuality - a figure higher than the UK average.

Police
South Wales Police are 'Diversity Champions'

Discrimination and abuse

Debbie Lane of the LGBT Cymru helpline said people who remain in their jobs too often suffer discrimination - from being overlooked for promotion to homophobic bullying, even violence.

Ms Lane said: "For example, people leaving messages on people's workstations saying, 'People like you make me sick'.

"Then we have the extreme side of things where actual violence has occurred outside the workplace."

Stonewall Cymru claims too many gay workers do not know their rights, and too many of the agencies they turn to for advice are not up to speed with the law either.

Stonewall Cymru Director Dr Alison Parken said: "One of the things that we have done, with the help of Government funding, is to introduce a training project to enable generalist advisors in Citizens Advice Bureau around Wales to understand the manifestation of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace or harassment and give them advice about how to advise people."

As well as calling for justice when the law is breached, Stonewall strives to promote best practice amongst employers.

Diversity champions

The charity has assessed South Wales Police's procedures and awarded them the title of Welsh "Diversity Champions" alongside the likes of the DVLA, Cardiff University and the Assembly Government.

Police Sergeant Craig Bannister is a gay man working for Ms Wilding's force.

He says the changes in the organisation's attention to the concerns of gay staff have been "extraordinary".

Sergeant Bannister said: "South Wales Police have made dramatic progress - and I don't use the word 'dramatic' lightly - in the sense that very recently we have launched a Gay Staff Network for police officers and police support staff."

If companies do not take the concerns of gay employees very seriously it is likely to prove costly.

The first employment tribunal under the 2003 law was settled in 2005.

A manager who had been taunted about his sexual orientation won over 35,000 compensation.

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