Diversity and discrimination

If you think you have been treated unfairly or have been discriminated against because of your age, gender, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or disability, there's a wide range of legislation, information and contacts to help you understand and enforce your rights.

Getting help and advice

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland can advise you if you believe you have suffered unlawful discrimination on the grounds of:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sexual orientation

The law protects against discrimination at work on all of the above grounds. It also covers acts of discrimination in accessing services, or buying goods, or renting, buying or accessing premises on all those grounds except age.

Contact the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.


There is legal protection against age discrimination in Northern Ireland. Treating staff fairly and recognising individuals' talents and needs is not just the right thing to do, but makes good business sense as well.

Find out more about the law on age discrimination.

Sex and gender equality

Unlawful sex discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because of their gender. It also includes treating someone less favourably because they are married or in a civil partnership.

Women, men and transsexual people can all experience sex discrimination.

In Northern Ireland, there is a statutory obligation on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between:

  • people of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation
  • men and women generally
  • people with a disability and people without
  • people with dependants and people without

Sexual orientation

The term 'sexual orientation' refers to a person’s sexual attraction towards people of the same sex, people of the opposite sex, or people of the same sex and opposite sex.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland provides information and advice about discrimination due to an individual's sexual orientation, or perceived orientation, or the sexual orientation of those they associate with.

If you think you have been treated unfairly because of your particular sexual orientation, you can seek advice and support from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.


The Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order makes it unlawful to discriminate in the fields of:

  • employment
  • education
  • the disposal and management of premises
  • the provision of goods, facilities and services

It also says that segregation on racial grounds constitutes discrimination.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has responsibility for enforcing race relations legislation. It also has a specific duty to advise and assist people who feel they are being discriminated against racially.

People with disabilities

You will find more information on definitions of 'disability' and information on general rights of access to goods and services at the below link.

Discrimination at work

You will find information on what discrimination means due to age, sex, race, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation, and what can be done about it at the below link.

More information on fair employment and treatment in the workplace is also available from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland website.

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