Homophobic teasing or taunting is unlawful harassment on grounds of sexual orientation, even where the perpetrators know the victim is not gay. Employers that fail to clamp down on taunting about sexual orientation, race, religion or age face an increased risk of discrimination claims.
The Court of Appeal felt that public policy required employees to be protected against homophobic taunts regardless of their actual sexuality and the perpetrators should not escape liability simply because they knew the victim was heterosexual.
Employees may now argue that the same should apply to harassment on grounds of race, religion/belief and age (as the laws are drafted in a similar way). Gender and disability laws are probably not capable of this construction without amendment. Of course it is best practice to stamp out this type of bullying on any grounds, to avoid constructive dismissal or stress claims. (Thomas v Sanderson, CA)