Gay and bisexual men earn less despite anti-discrimination legislation, study reveals

CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom — The wage gap in society people usually discuss involves the disparity between men and women. However, a new report finds a person’s sexual orientation may also put them at a disadvantage, despite laws against such discrimination. A team from Anglia Ruskin University finds both gay and bisexual men still earn less than their heterosexual peers.

While this research was based in the United Kingdom, the findings also apply to Australia and the United States. Study authors analyzed a total of 24 prior studies published between 2012 and 2020 during their review.

These findings are particularly eye-brow raising for the U.K. considering the Equality Act that passed in 2010. The act aims to stop all workplace prejudice against employees due to their gender and or sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the research finds the act has not evened the playing field as of yet. The data shows gay and bisexual men, along with bisexual women for that matter, working in the U.K. still earn less than their straight colleagues on average.

“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,” says study author Professor Nick Drydakis, Director of the Centre for Pluralist Economics at ARU, in a university release. “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.”

Wage inequality still an issue worldwide

Across all three nations, researchers find gay men earn 6.8 percent less on average than straight male employees. More specifically, bisexual men earn 10.3 percent less than heterosexual men on average, while bisexual women earn 5.1 percent less than heterosexual women. The only notable exception to this trend is among homosexual women. Lesbian women earn 7.1 percent more on average than heterosexual female employees.

In the U.K. in particular, gay and bisexual men collectively earn 4.7 percent less than heterosexual male employees. In the United States, gay and bisexual male workers together earn 10.9 percent less than their straight peers.

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

The team published their findings in the Journal of Population Economics.