Skip to main content
In order to provide complete functionality, this web site needs your explicit consent to store browser cookies. If you don't allow cookies, you may not be able to use certain features of the web site including but not limited to: log in, buy products, see personalized content, switch between site cultures. It is recommended that you allow all cookies.
How is our work influencing life in Northern Ireland and delivering equality? Learn more about our policy, legal and research work.

Sexual orientation equality

The Equality Commission's work in the
area of sexual orientation equality and LGB discrimination

Sexual Orientation Equality

Part of the Equality Commission's remit is to tackle sexual orientation discrimination and promote sexual orientation equality.

Details about our work on sexual orientation equality can be found in various sections across the website, but the information here sets out current and recent policy and research work along with relevant publications and legislation.


Priority areas for action


We have identified a range of priority areas for sexual orientation equality.

Three key areas require specific strategic action:
  • tackling prejudicial attitudes and behaviours specifically homophobic hate crimes, harassment both inside and outside workplace and homophobic bullying in schools
  • promoting positive attitudes and
  • raising awareness of rights of LGB people.

For full details download our policy position document:


Our law reform recommendations

We are calling for reform of the sexual orientation equality law to ensure protection for LGB individuals against discrimination and harassment. Among the measures we are calling for are:
  • stronger protection in the area of sexual orientation harassment of employees by clients and  customers and by public bodies when carrying out their functions
  • narrow the scope of the exemption for religious employers
  • expand the range of lawful positive action measures that employers and service providers can make
  • greater protection against victimisation, increase protection against multiple discrimination and amend the enforcement mechanism for education complaints
  • increase protection for counsellors against sexual orientation discrimination
  • improving the powers of the Equality Commission; strengthening Tribunal Powers and extending time limits for lodging discrimination complaints.

See our full policy position:

Our LGB priorities and recommendations in detail


The NI Executive's sexual orientation strategy

We are calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to deliver a robust and comprehensive sexual orientation strategy.

Read our response to OFMDFM's consultation questionnaire on sexual orientation strategy (pdf, 2014) which reflects our policy priorities and recommendations as mentioned above.

Recent press releases, articles and speeches

Press releases, articles and blogs relating to sexual orientation are available online

Recent legal cases

Examples of sexual orientation discrimination legal cases:

Further examples of legal case decisions and settlements relating to sexual orientation are available online

Programme for Government
The Equality Commission has set out its recommendations in relation to the next Programme for Government (PfG) and Budget of the NI Executive.  We have highlighted the need for a clear commitment in the PfG to address key inequalities experienced by S75 groups, underpinned by robust measures, as well as a commitment to promote good relations.  Read our key point briefing (pdf) or recommendations in full (pdf, 2016). Further information is available on the Programme for Government section of our website

< Delivering equality
< Addressing inequality
Sexual Orientation rights in:   
  Work >
  Services >
  Education >

Enabling Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Individuals to Access their Rights under Equality Law

The Commission jointly with the Equality Authority commissioned research, to examine how equality bodies can enable lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people to secure their rights under equality law.
This research made it clear that LGB individuals experience barriers to accessing their equality rights due to a number of factors including their status and invisibility within society as well as issues associated with the legal framework.  The report also highlights the need for action by a number of key stakeholders to promote and raise awareness of the rights of LGB people under equality law.

A Question of Attitude (2018)
Question of AttitudeWe asked respondents a series of 'social distance' questions to assess public attitudes towards ten equality groups. The scenarios explored how comfortable people felt with varying degrees of closeness to a member of a 'different' group. Respondents were asked whether they 'would mind' or 'would not mind' having a member of each group as a work colleague, a neighbour or if one of the group members were to marry a close relative.

Do you mean me? Discrimination: Attitudes and experience in NI (2011)

The Commission's equality awareness survey 'Do You Mean Me?' includes social attitudes in Northern Ireland on a number of equality grounds, including sexual orientation.
  Do you mean me?

< Sexual Orientation Equality Sexual Orientation Publications >
Sexual Orientation Legislation >
Publications relating to sexual orientation:
  • Eliminating Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Northern Ireland – Short Guides:
- Education (pdf, 2009)
- Financial (pdf, 2009)
- Health & Social Care (pdf, 2009)
- Hospitality  (pdf, 2009)
- Housing (pdf, 2009)

< Sexual Orientation Equality Sexual Orientation Research >
Sexual Orientation Legislation >

Sexual Orientation equality legislation

The Law
Equality and anti-discrimination law may be changed or updated. The law is also complex and can require interpretation. Please contact our discrimination advice team if you need clarification or guidance on what the law means. Email: or tel: 028 90 500 600.

Main laws


Amending laws



< Sexual Orientation Equality Sexual Orientation Research >
Sexual Orientation Publications >
Print All