Northern Ireland

Sexual orientation strategy: Public consultation gets go-ahead

Two hands with wedding rings on them Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The strategy will be published once the public consultation process has been completed

The Office of First and Deputy First Minister is making plans to launch a public consultation on the long-delayed sexual orientation strategy.

Junior minister Jonathan Bell said the strategy would promote equality of opportunity for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) people.

He said officials had already communicated with all interested groups.

It is not clear when the consultation will begin.

In answer to a question on the strategy on Monday, Mr Bell told the assembly: "We have asked officials to commence public consultation and the strategy will be published once the public consultation process has been completed."

He said the strategy would aim to promote an environment free from harassment and bullying and to tackle homophobia in all forms including violence and abuse.

Mr Bell said groups would be able to answer questions via the web to get the fullest consultation.

He was not drawn on a question by the SDLP's Delores Kelly.

She asked him to confirm or deny that the hold-up in the strategy dating back to 2007 was due to the religious beliefs of some DUP members.

Mr Bell answered: "The important thing is we have a strategy that addresses the needs that I have outlined."

He said he had spoken out a number of times against anyone being subjected to bullying or violence.

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