What does sexual orientation mean?

New law in force

The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.

Your sexual orientation means the general attraction you feel towards people of one sex or another (or both). Most people are generally attracted to:

  • people who are the same sex as them
  • people who are the opposite sex to them, or
  • people of both sexes.

Same-sex attraction is called homosexuality. On this site, we call men and women who are homosexual either ‘gay’ (for men) or ‘lesbian’ (for women).

Opposite-sex attraction is called heterosexuality. On this site, we describe people who are heterosexual as ‘straight’.

Both-sex attraction is called bisexuality. On this site, we use the word ‘bisexual’, or occasionally just ‘bi’, to describe people who are attracted to both sexes.

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