Sexuality and gender identity rights

Everyone has the right to access healthcare, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people may have poor experiences of health services or social care, due to negative attitudes towards sexuality or gender identity. This may include an assumption that someone is heterosexual, discussing a patient’s sexuality when it’s not relevant to their care, or refusing care because of their gender identity or sexuality.

Negative experiences of health or social care professionals should not discourage you or the person you care for from seeking treatment.

The Equality Act (2010) makes it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or to discriminate against someone who intends to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone gender reassignment.

If you or the person you look after is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual, it’s your right to have safe, appropriate and comprehensive medical care.

Next of kin

If you and your partner are civil partners, you have the same rights as a heterosexual married couple.

A civil partnership also gives you the right to be your partner’s nearest relative. This means that you can make certain decisions about healthcare, such as making an application for your partner to be admitted for assessment. 

If you're not in a civil partnership or marriage, the ethical approach of many healthcare teams is to ask patients who they would like as their point of contact (rather than using the term "next of kin"). This is to ensure that your wishes are recognised by the healthcare team.


If you're unhappy with any treatment you've received, you have the right to complain. If you feel you've been treated unfairly or discriminated against, try to resolve the issue by contacting the place you received treatment.