A recent survey of people in Northern Ireland shows that one in five would not like to have gay neighbours.
Gay people were also not welcome in the workplace by some: 23% of people surveyed said that they would have a problem working with a gay, lesbian or bisexual person. This was an increase from 14% in a 2005 survey.
Northern Ireland Equality Commission Chief Commissioner Bob Collins said the results of the survey highlighted “the breadth of work which remains to be done in order to effectively change perceptions and attitudes towards citizens in Northern Ireland”.
Collins noted that, “We are very conscious that negative views covering a range of grounds including race, disability, and sexual orientation are on the rise”.
He added that “attitudes became more intense as the respondents considered closer contact with the groups in question. These findings will help the Equality Commission and other bodies to focus on those areas which offer the greatest challenge to achieving equality of opportunity and a fair society”.
Support overall for equality legislation in Northern Ireland was extremely high with 92% of respondents agreeing there is a need for such laws. A significant proportion of respondents (16%) said they had experienced some form of harassment or had been treated unfairly during the past three years because they belonged to a particular group.