NI Equality Commission Responds To Conscience Bill


Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission have released a statement today in response to the DUP’s proposed Freedom of Conscience Amendment Bill.

The Commission has said it does not support either of the proposed amendments to the Sexual Orientation Regulations as set out in the draft Bill, which was submitted by Paul Givan, MLA, of the Democratic Unionist Party (pictured).

“We believe that, if introduced, the proposed amendments would significantly weaken protection against discrimination in Northern Ireland for lesbian, gay and bisexual people when accessing goods, facilities and services or buying or renting premises,” said Dr. Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission.

Belfast March
Marchers protesting the proposed “conscience clause” bill in Belfast (photo from

“These exceptions are targeted solely on the rights protected by the sexual orientation regulations and no equivalent provisions are proposed for other areas of equality law”, Dr. Wardlow said.

“They are inconsistent with the approach adopted under other equality strands where there is also the potential for competing rights, and with the approach adopted by equality law in other parts of the United Kingdom.”

Last weekend LGBT faith-based group, Changing Attitudes Ireland (CAI) together with trade unions and some of the province’s political parties marched against the proposed bill, which they say is “a licence to discriminate”.

The Commission’s full response to the proposed Bill is available online here.

© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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