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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

What you need to know

Research

Publications

Legislation

 

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 believe legislation should be introduced to:

  • permit same-sex marriage and provides heterosexual couples access to civil partnerships on the same basis as that available to same sex couples
  • extend the scope of adoption legislation so as to allow unmarried couples, those in civil partnership and same sex.

We argue any ban on blood donations from any group, including homosexual men, must be based on clear medical evidence.

See our full policy position:
 

Strengthening protection against discrimination and harassment

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
  • permit civil partnerships to be registered on religious premises where faith groups wish to hold them
  • 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

Recent press releases, articles and speeches relating to sexual orientation:

Press releases


Articles


Speeches


For a full list of press releases, articles and speeches relating to sexual orientation, check our searchable news archive
 

Recent legal cases

Examples of sexual orientation discrimination legal cases:


More legal case decisions and settlements 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 www.equalityni.org/pfg


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

 
Research

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)
 

Do you mean me?
Equality awareness survey

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.
 


 
 

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: discriminationadvice@equalityni.org or tel: 028 90 500 600.


Main laws:

• Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2003

• Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006

 

Amending laws:

• Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2006

• Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) (Amendment No.2) Regulations (NI) 2007

 

 
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