31/07/2015

Equality Commission Marks 25th Annual Belfast Pride Festival

Northern Ireland has seen many positive changes, but there remains "some was to go before all are afforded the equality of treatment, and the respect, to which every human being is entitled", the Equality Commission NI has said on the eve of the city's 25th annual Pride Parade.

Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission, Michael Wardlow, said that one of the outstanding issues remains the need for Government to have a robust, outcome focused, and comprehensive Sexual Orientation Strategy, which would send a strong statement of their commitment to promoting equality for LGB people in Northern Ireland.

"The Commission believes an effective Sexual Orientation Strategy could ensure focused effort to tackle prejudicial attitudes and behaviours - including hate crime, harassment inside and outside the workplace, and homophobic bullying in schools; could set out clear actions to promote positive attitudes towards LGB individuals and to raise awareness of the rights of LGB people, both amongst LGB people themselves and amongst those with responsibilities under the sexual orientation equality legislation," Dr Wardlow said.
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In responding to OFMDFM's 2014 request for views on what a sexual orientation strategy should include, the Commission also made clear that it should contain a commitment by Departments, their agencies and other statutory authorities to have meaningful engagement with the LGB sector; to implement the strategy; and to give effective leadership in promoting it.

"Public bodies, including government departments and local authorities, as well as private and voluntary sector employers, can make a significant contribution by taking measures to promote positive attitudes towards their LGB employees, office holders and ensuring they provide full equality of treatment for their customers," Dr Wardlow added.

"The Commission will continue to raise concerns with Government about the delay in progressing a consultation on a full draft Sexual Orientation Strategy.

"The Commission will also continue to highlight how Government can advance equality for Trans individuals, including via the Gender Equality Strategy. Everyone has the right to lead a life free from discrimination, abuse or harassment. The Commission will continue to work to make that aspiration a reality."

(MH/LM)

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