As Donald Trump pledges to sign an anti-LGBT law permitting discrimination because of sexuality on religious grounds we see yet again a shocking reminder of the consequences of such discrimination, this time in Australia. Political figures on both sides of the Atlantic have begun making noises that discrimination laws are no longer needed and that simplification or repeal may be on the cards. Yet when a 13 year old takes his own life in Australia as a direct consequence of homophobic bullying, can anyone really suggest such protection is no longer needed? As we contemplate a departure from the EU and a possible "release" from obedience to EU law, such protections here will become open to debate and even potential change. Employers and employees need to begin a dialogue now on what is needed in the workplace and how to best achieve it when the time comes. Otherwise the decision may well be taken out of their hands.
The bullying started when Tyrone Unsworth was just beginning to understand he was gay. He ignored the taunts as best he could. His favourite saying was "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me". But a month ago, Tyrone was involved in a violent clash - allegedly with another student - outside school. According to his mother, Tyrone required surgery after being hit in the jaw with a fence paling. The attack left him afraid to return to school. Then last Tuesday, Tyrone took his own life. He was 13. Amanda Unsworth said her son, a boy with bright blue eyes who dreamed of becoming a vet or a fashion designer, had been bullied about his sexuality for years.