Quarter of NI objects to gay neighbour

Published Wednesday, 13 June 2012
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A quarter of people in Northern Ireland would mind having a gay, lesbian or bisexual person living next door, a survey by the Equality Commission said.

Quarter of NI objects to gay neighbour
The report ‘Do You Mean Me?’ launched on Wednesday. (© UTV)

The report looked at how attitudes towards people from different backgrounds - including race, disability and sexual orientation - have changed over the past six years.

It found that the level of negativity has risen and linked this to increased social contact.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they would object to a gay neighbour and 42% would be unhappy about them becoming an in-law.

Around a third of people, 35%, would mind a transgendered person as a work colleague.

Meanwhile half of respondents would mind having a Traveller as an in-law and negative attitudes towards people with disabilities, most notably mental ill-health, are also up.

Chief commissioner, Michael Wardlow, said: "This is a worrying insight into the population's psyche and proves that much work remains to be done to break down barriers in our mindsets to create a fairer and more equal society for everyone in Northern Ireland."

Over 1,000 people from across NI were surveyed last September.

A group representing the gay community said the study has provided a startling insight.

John O'Doherty of the Rainbow Project said: "What this report clearly shows is that not enough is being done to address the negative perceptions that exist against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender 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 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as second-class citizens there is the risk that this is how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will be viewed by the general public."

Mr Wardlow said the survey shows a trend towards a hardening of attitudes when it comes to marriages and relationships.

He has encouraged people in NI to challenge beliefs and stereotypes.

"Overall, attitudes towards different groups in different social distance situations have firmed or hardened over time, in particular in the marry/relationship situation," he said.

"The key question is "Do you Mean Me?" and this is double-edged. It is not just have I experienced discrimination because of who I am, but do I have negative attitudes towards others just because of who they are?

"Where the answer to the second question is yes, then we each need to address what makes us think like this and challenge our own beliefs and stereotypes."

© UTV News
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11 Comments
Lorcán in Washington DC, USA wrote (779 days ago):
Its absolute madness that this should be the case in this day and age. But what can you expect really when religious fundamentalists have too much of say in the six counties.
séan in miami, fl, usa wrote (787 days ago):
First of all I would like to say I'm gay and I come from a very orthodox irish backround (mother is from dublin...my dad is from belfast) now a few of.my close friends know I'm gay and I am coming out to more and more people...when it comes to the older population they seem to be less understanding...and the younger population seem to care less on the sexual prefrance of other people...the only thing I can say is ireland is very traditional and stick to a very orthodox lifestyle...they just.don't realize that hokosexuality has exsted since before the middle ages...some irish clans were even founded upon the idea thad homosexuality was normal...
Eamonn Andrews in Belfast wrote (798 days ago):
I am very surprised after reading this story. Our wee country that we are all hoping to live in harmony and get on with our lives, well im sure gay people would like to live their lives in peace,Shame on all homophobics.Live and let live. If your sons and daughters told you they were gay,what would you do,would you welcome them with open arms,and invite them to live next door to you.You dont know what way your kids or grandkids are going to turn out.Quarter of people obviously dont like gays. Wise up you ......
OldSod in Fermanagh wrote (798 days ago):
I wonder how many people in Northern Ireland object to having a bigoted neighbour?
Read the post Jack in Norn Iron wrote (799 days ago):
Jack mate, read the post. I said that I don't agree with the lifestyle and perhaps my terminology was flawed but then lets consider incorrect etymology. What is "homophobia"? It implies fear. Fear is not something that people like me who disagree with the life that LGBT people lead, do not feel. We don't agree with what these people do but I also said that I disagreed with persecution and hatred of these and anyone else in society which you've also contradicted. Then you started banging on about the Middle East?????!! I tolerate people at work and in life and I don't agree with them including the ignorant who try and imply things that aren't there and use incorrect wording when it suits them and then play the victim card. I am against hatred and persecution of any people who are not causing harm to other people in society. Quote me on that Jack. Actually my views on tolerance and agreement to disagree are far more humane than your's.
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