The Rainbow Project have responded to a report by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland which shows an increase in negative attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual people and for the first time, measures attitudes towards transgendered (LGB&T) people in Northern Ireland.
Speaking about the report John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project said ‘This report provides some startling information about attitudes towards LGB people and people who identify as transgender. . Not only do negative attitudes still exist, they are on the increase. What this report clearly shows is that not enough is being done to address the negative perceptions that exist against LGB&T people. While Government Ministers continue to refuse to introduce legislation to allow same sex couples to adopt children or get married, no consideration is given to the impact this has on attitudes towards our community. While government continues to treat LGB&T people as second class citizens there is the risk that this is how LGB&T people will be viewed by the general public.
He continued ‘Northern Ireland is unique in relation to how we view ‘good relations’. We only address good relations for people of different religions, political opinions and race and with this comes the strength of the Community Relations Council, Peace III funding and Good Relations Units in each local council. What is clear from this report is that this definition is much too narrow and is not based on the best evidence available. There is no good reason why the Government is so limited in its approach to good relations in Northern Ireland; the definition should be extended to include people of different sexual orientations.
The Equality Commission also needs to step up. This is the third time they have carried out this wide ranging research which shows attitudes towards LGB people are getting progressively worse. Attitudes towards transgender people are very stark also. The question for the Commission now is: as the leading agency in Northern Ireland tasked with addressing these issues, what are you planning to do about it.
Mr O’Doherty concluded ‘As the LGB&T community becomes more and more visible there is a risk that negative attitudes will continue to grow. It is paramount that the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Equality Commission ensures that good relations work is extended to address the additional areas identified in this report; that the Sexual Orientation Strategy and Action Plan is developed as a priority, and that Political Parties continue to support the move to have the Strategy for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration inclusive of issues relating to LGB&T people and people living with disabilities.
1. For more information please contact John O’Doherty on 028 9031 9030
2. The Rainbow Project is Northern Ireland’s largest LGB&T organisation.
3. The Equality Commissions report entitled ‘Do you mean me?’ noted the following:
- Over a quarter of people (27%) would mind a gay, lesbian or bisexual person living next door, compared to 14% in 2005, with 42% unhappy about them becoming an in-law, a rise of 13 percentage points over the last six years.
- Around a third of people (35%) would mind a transgender person as a work colleague, rising to 40% as a neighbour and 53% as an in-law. This is the first time a major survey in Northern Ireland has considered attitudes towards this group.