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Equality Commission Northern Ireland
TEL 028 90 500 600
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Sexual orientation equality
Stronger legal protections
Employers & service providers
How is our work influencing life in Northern Ireland and delivering equality? Learn more about our policy, legal and research work.
Stronger legal protections
LGB priorities and recommendations
What you need to know
Strengthening Legal Protections
The Commission recommends that strategic action is required to strengthen legal protections for LGB individuals. This includes action to:
reform sexual orientation equality law so as to ensure robust legislative protection for LGB individuals against discrimination and harassment, as well as to strengthen enforcement of the legislation;
introduce legislation that permits same -sex marriage and provides heterosexual couples access to civil partnerships on the same basis as that available to same sex couples; and
extend the scope of adoption legislation so as to allow unmarried couples, those in civil partnership and same sex couples to apply to be considered as adoptive parents.
Strengthen Sexual orientation equality law
The Equality Commission is under a duty to keep the sexual orientation legislation under review and to make recommendations for change where necessary.
The Commission will shortly publish a full report outlining its proposals for law reform of the sexual orientation equality legislation.
In summary, the Commission recommends that the sexual orientation legislation is amended to:
give stronger protection against sexual orientation harassment; including sexual orientation harassment of employees by clients or customers
ensure increased protection against sexual orientation discrimination and harassment by public bodies when carrying out their public functions
narrow the scope of the exemption for religious employers in order to ensure effective implementation of the Employment Framework Directive
expand the range of lawful positive action measures that employers, service providers and others can take
ensure greater protection under the sexual orientation equality legislation for individuals against victimisation
introduce protection against multiple discrimination
amend the enforcement mechanism for education complaints
increase protection for counsellors against sexual orientation discrimination or harassment
improve the powers of the Equality Commission to issue additional codes of practice and to enforce effectively the sexual orientation equality legislation
strengthen tribunal powers to ensure effective remedies for complainants bringing sexual orientation complaints and amend tribunal rules and procedures so as to remove barriers to LGB accessing their equality rights
remove barriers to LGB people accessing rights by, for example, extending the time limits for lodging discrimination complaints, introducing representative actions and the power for the Commission to bring complaints in its own name and empowering tribunals to make discretionary orders to restrict publicity in sensitive cases.
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