The lawyer who represented a couple identified online as lesbians by their estate agents has said the case highlights that many people are not aware of protections for gay people.

Suzanne Richards and Sarah Dobinson were horrified to find that staff at the Bury St Edmunds branch of Jackson Stops & Staff had used the word ‘lesbian’ as the reference for their property on www.rightmove.co.uk.

The couple were distraught by this breach of privacy and concerned that the estate agent’s actions could make them targets for homophobic members of the public.

The company later paid £5,000 compensation to Ms Richards and Ms Dobinson.

Eleanor Jennings from law firm Russell Jones & Walker, the couple’s solicitor, told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Unfortunately, generally speaking, there is a lack of knowledge of the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

“I don’t think Jackson Stops & Staff’s attitude is very different from other service providers.

“Initially the company couldn’t see how they discriminated against my client.”

The company eventually accepted the claim.

“This case is important because the end result was positive,” said Ms Jennings.

“The outcome of this case is that Jackson Stops & Staff have agreed to implement training in this area for its staff.

“People are aware of disability discrimination in terms of goods and services but there is a problem with sexual orientation.

“On a regular basis people face discrimination.

“Employers should start thinking about training. I think this case sets an example for service providers.”

The Sexual Orientation Regulations came into force in April 2007. They outlaw discrimination on the groups of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, services and facilities.