Page last updated at 05:52 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 06:52 UK

Survey suggests anti-gay views

Group attending Gay Pride parade in Belfast
A group of people attending the Gay Pride parade in Belfast

One in five people in Northern Ireland would mind having a homosexual person or a migrant worker living next door, according to a survey.

More than half (51%) questioned for the Equality Commission survey said they would mind living next door to a member of the travelling community.

Of those surveyed, 16% said they would not want a person with mental illness as a neighbour.

A neighbour of a different religion was a difficulty for 6% of respondents.

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".

He added that "attitudes became more intense as the respondents considered closer contact with the groups in question".


"Each of these areas has seen an increase in people expressing negative views, with 51% stating they would mind if a close relative were to marry a traveller, compared to 38% in 2005.

"In 2005, 14% of people surveyed said they would have a problem working with a gay, lesbian or bisexual person, and today that has risen to 23%.


"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."

Mr Collins said that although research indicated prejudice on religious grounds was "broadly similar to that found three years ago" and it was "a consolation that so few people expressed such attitudes", the commission could not "assume that the question of sectarianism is no longer an issue".

Support overall for equality legislation in Northern Ireland was high in the survey, with 92% of respondents agreeing there was a need for such laws.

Some 16% of respondents 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.

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