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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 July 2006, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Plans to end gay discrimination
Rainbow flag
Government plans to end discrimination based on sexual orientation in NI have been praised by gay and lesbian groups.

Anti-discrimination legislation is already in place, but the goods and services proposals up for an eight-week consultation would close a loophole.

They include measures to prevent gays or lesbians being turned away from hotels or being denied house tenancies.

NI Secretary Peter Hain said everybody must enjoy "the same access to goods, facilities, services and education".

Mr Hain said fresh financial backing was also planned for organisations who support the gay community.

"The government's vision is for a fair society founded on equal opportunities for all, respect for the dignity and worth of each person and mutual respect between communities.

It is another small step towards ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are equal and valued citizens in a modern Northern Irish society
James Knox
Coalition on Sexual Orientation
"Since 1997, this government has taken steps UK-wide to achieve that goal and these new proposals are a further step along that road."

Similar proposals on goods and services are currently being consulted on in Great Britain.

A draft sexual orientation strategy is also being published, with responses studied over the next 12 weeks.

Mr Hain said the government had "worked closely with the sector to produce the strategy which endorses government's commitment to ensuring equality of opportunity for lesbian, gay and bisexual people".

He added: "Through its three-year action plan, we will tackle issues of concern such as health and suicide, as well as education issues and homophobic bullying."

Coalition on Sexual Orientation spokesman James Knox said the proposals were "another small step towards ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are equal and valued citizens in a modern Northern Irish society".


SEE ALSO
'Gay weddings' first for Belfast
19 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
Gay Pride weathers Belfast storm
06 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland
Growing up gay in Belfast
06 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland

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