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Multiple identities

LGB priorities and recommendations

What you need to know


Addressing barriers due to multiple identities

It is clear that LGB people can experience barriers to accessing services, as well as being subject to prejudicial attitudes and harassment, due to having a combination of characteristics.

For example, research jointly commissioned by the Equality Commission and the Equality Authority entitled Enabling Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Individuals to Access Their Rights Under Equality Law (pdf) has identified that, as regards accessing their equality rights, that young LGB people and those living in rural settings were particularly vulnerable.

Further, research carried out in Great Britain has highlighted that older LGB people have been overlooked in health and social care legislation, policy, research, guidance and practice, which assumes service users are heterosexual.  It concludes that ‘existing evidence points to discrimination and anticipation of negative treatment when older LGB people access services.’

A small scale study  undertaken by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission focused on the experiences of young lesbians, gay men and bisexual people in Northern Ireland.  The research provided evidence of prejudice, homophobia and violence experienced by young LGB people, and of the isolation they often experience both socially and within their families. 

In relation to health services, it found that young LGB people encountered prejudice, abuse of human rights (in particular, breaches of privacy and confidentiality), and a lack of responsiveness to their needs.  Young people working in the health service also encountered discrimination.  The report put forward a series of recommendations in relation to health service professionals and tailored services and support.

In addition, a report produced by the Lesbian Advocacy Services Initiative (LASI), A Mighty Silence, has highlighted the barriers faced by lesbian women with a disability.

Further, a recent report into the experiences of LGB disabled people in Northern Ireland  has, for example, raised the need for greater awareness across all sectors of the particular needs of LGB disabled people and for specific action to address these needs.


  • The Commission recommends that the Executive adopts strategic action to raise awareness of the issues facing LGB people with multiple identities and to take action to tackle the barriers they experience and to address their specific needs; including a focus on multiple identity issues within the proposed Sexual Orientation Strategy.  
  • We recommend actions such as incorporating multiple identity issues into equality and diversity training for employees, improved monitoring and data collection on multiple identity issues and ensuring that services are reviewed with the aim of removing barriers experienced LGB individuals with multiple identities.
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