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Sexual orientation discrimination often comes up in the context of employment actions. It usually refers to a predisposition towards heterosexual people, which is biased against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, among others. This is specifically referred to as heterosexism. It can, however, also be against heterosexual people. A related term is sexual prejudice, a negative attitude towards someone because of their sexual orientation. This bias is also the same as homophobia, as it is discrimination towards or against certain sexual orientations.
An earlier definition of this term is: Sexual orientation discrimination is a belief or argument that one sexual orientation or sexual behaviour is inherently superior to some or all others. Usually it comes in the form of heterosexuality being considered the only natural, normal, or moral mode of sexual behavior, and is also used to refer to the effects of that instinct. The word heterosexism has also been proposed to mean essentially the same thing as this form of sexual orientation discrimination. This word has been suggested as an alternative to homophobia, in part because it uses a parallel structure to sexism or racism. The intent of the concept of heterosexism is the examination of the cultural bias against non-heterosexuals rather than individual bias, which is the focus of homophobia, as well as the adverse effects of normative heterosexuality on heterosexual identifying people.
The term pansexualism, seen especially in the field of early-20th-century psychoanalysis, was based on the usage of the term "sexualism" to refer to humanity's sexual nature. The terms homosexualism and bisexualism were also based on this usage, and were commonly used before the general adoption of the terms homosexuality and bisexuality.