Equal Rights - Itīs the Law
Overview of Sexual Orientation campaign
In order to raise awareness of the new sexual orientation (goods, facilities and services) legislation, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is running a campaign called ´Equal Rights - It´s the Law!´ This targeted campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the new law, both among those who have rights and those who have responsibilities. Whilst the campaign aims to inform all service providers of their responsibilities under the new law there will be a particular focus on 2 sectors - hospitality and education.
We are using a number of advertising media such as press advertising, washroom advertising, direct mail, advertising in LGBT magazines and the production of flyers and posters for distribution across bars. More in-depth partnership work is planned with the health, hospitality and education sectors.
The Hospitality Sector
While a great number of service providers will have new responsibilities under the legislation, the hospitality sector has much to gain by embracing the regulations and ensuring their services are open to everyone. The hospitality sector includes the significant number of hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs in Northern Ireland.
The promotional campaign will focus on the hospitality sector and work with businesses to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities and help to promote good practice.
It is important to note that the new regulations will apply to education, this both primary and secondary education. Discrimination in further and higher education is already unlawful under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. Pupils will be protected from discrimination both on the grounds of their own or perceived sexuality and that of a person they are associated with, for example a parent.
The regulations aim to reinforce existing duties that schools have to address and effective deal with bullying, with a clear focus on eliminating homophobic bullying. There is also a clear emphasis on schools embracing diversity and equality and embedding this into all their policies, practices and procedures.
The campaign will focus on highlighting the duties new legislation places upon schools, helping them to embrace these and become examples of good practice.
The final element of the campaign will be to focus on raising awareness of the individual rights the legislation brings.
One of the most striking things about the sexual orientation GFS regulations is that it affects us all. We all have a sexual orientation be it gay, lesbian, heterosexual or bisexual and it is possible that we may be treated less favourably because of this.
However it is recognised that people who are gay, lesbian and bisexual are disproportionately discriminated against because of their sexuality, and it is this group that the rights based element of the campaign will focus on.
It is anticipated through awareness raising, individuals will gain an understanding of their rights and be able to use these to challenge discrimination, both informally by speaking directly to service providers or by bringing legal action, to bring about positive change.