The Equalities Commission Northern Ireland’s report Do You Mean Me? published today has some startling findings of hardening of negative attitudes here in Northern Ireland, whether that be race, disability or sexual orientation over the last 6 years.
The key headline figures for the LGBT community make scarey reading.
The report found that 27% would mind a gay, lesbian or bisexual person living next door, compared to 14% in 2005, while 42% unhappy about them becoming an in-law, a rise of 13 percentage points over the last six years.
Around a third of people (35%) would mind a transgender person as a work colleague, rising to 40% as a neighbour and 53% as an in-law. This is the first time a major survey in Northern Ireland has considered attitudes towards transgender persons.
Comparing the transgender hostility to the traveling community, where the worst racial negativity was directed, which saw 27% mind having someone from that community as a work colleague 54% as a neighbour and 55% as an in-law, means that Trans are one of the most negatively perceived groups in Northern Ireland, while the Lesbian, gay and bisexuals score worse than migrant workers in all areas except the work place.
You can see that the perception of people from different religion once the be all and end all of Northern Ireland prejudice is down at the bottom along with learning or physical disability there is room for a lot more work on creating a safe shared future for other groups. The emphasis on sectarianism based on religion has it seems had a result, but the other equality groups have been left behind.
We need an attitude change from our political leaders, many of whom are scathing about LGBT people. This has rubbed off on the rest of Northern Ireland society it is not good enough for those at the forefront of public life to keep ignoring these feelings of unease. As the commissions chief executive Michael Wardlow says:
“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.”