No, there are different types of race discrimination, and it doesn’t have to be intentional to be unlawful. The main forms are:
Direct discrimination is where you are treated worse than others, on grounds of your race, when a service provider:
- Refuses or deliberately fails to provide a service;
- Provides a service of a lower quality, in a worse manner or on worse terms than is normally the case.
For example: A landlord refuses to let a house to a prospective tenant because they are from Poland. However he lets the house to local students.
Indirect discrimination is where a service provider unjustifiably operates a rule or policy that looks the same for everyone but in effect disadvantages people from your racial group.
For example: A bank writes its mortgage and loan agreements in the English language only. Whilst this policy is applied equally to everyone it disadvantages people from non English speaking countries.
Harassment is where a person behaves in a way, on racial grounds, which violates your dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
For example: Management at a nightclub watches as their doormen racially abuses a black Portuguese customer and denies him access to the club.
Victimisation is where you have made a complaint of race discrimination or helped someone else make a complaint about a service provider under the race law.
For example: A woman who provides a witness statement to support an Irish Traveller who has been racially abused in a shop is subsequently barred from that shop because she helped the Traveller.
You are protected from race discrimination in the provision of a wide range of services whether they are paid for or free.
- Access to public places
- Facilities for education
- Housing / Accommodation
- Getting or using services such as:
– Financial services – Banking / Insurance
– Government departments
- Professional or trade services
However, there are limited circumstances where race discrimination is allowed. Clubs, associations and charities set up for people of a particular ethnic or racial group may be allowed to discriminate in some circumstances.
1. Contact our Discrimination Advice Officers who will provide you with free and confidential information and guidance to help you resolve your issue.
2. Raise your complaint directly with the service provider and seek a resolution.
3. If a resolution is not reached and you wish to take your case further we may be able to provide you with legal representation. You must lodge your complaint of discrimination with the County Court.
NB: Only a County Court decides whether the treatment you have complained of is unlawful discrimination. It is separate to, and independent from, the Equality Commission.
If you require assistance or would like to make a discrimination complaint, complete our online form or telephone 028 90 500 600 (10am-4pm, Mon-Fri).
Publications (in pdf format)
relevant to race discrimination:
Translated publications on migrant workers rights (in pdf format):
You can also visit our publications database
A race hate crime is any incident perceived to have been committed against you or your property on the grounds of your ethnicity.
Racist incidents can take many different forms, for example, personal assaults, damage to your home or property as well as verbal abuse, hate mail, or the circulation of racist leaflets and materials.
You can find out more on racist hate crime on the Police Service for NI's website
What should I do if I have been a victim of race hate crime?
If you have been the victim of a racist incident you can call the Police on 101
(and select option 2: reporting a hate crime). In an emergency always call 999.
If you would like the police to know about a hate crime but you really do not want to report the crime yourself, someone else can report it for you – this is called third party reporting.
If your home has been attacked because of your race you may be eligible for personal and home protection measures under the Hate Incidents Practical Actions (HIPA) Scheme
What is the Equality Commission's role in relation to racist hate crime?
Although the Commission does not deal directly with hate crime it seeks through its policy work to influence the NI Executive and others to implement measures to tackle racism and hate crime. For more on this see the Commission’s priorities and recommendations on racial equality