Age discrimination is when you are treated differently and unfairly because of your age. It is also when you are treated differently and unfairly because of people’s opinions or perceptions about your age.

All children and young people in Northern Ireland are protected against discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation and religion.

However they are not protected on the grounds of age. Government plan to develop a law that would protect everyone from age discrimination when they need medical treatment, buy some goods and insurance, access public transport and educational services or rent a house. These are all examples of what the government is calling ‘Goods, Facilities and Services’ (GFS).

This legislation, as proposed by the Government, went out for public consultation in Autumn 2015 but included proposals would exclude young people under the age of 16 years.

UPDATE April 2017:

Age GFS Section 75 Complaint Seminar

Following NICCY’s successful complaint against The Executive Office’s (OFMDFM) compliance with its approved Equality Scheme in carrying out its consultation on proposals to introduce Age Discrimination (Goods, Facilities and Services) legislation, NICCY is holding a lunchtime seminar in Equality House on 31st May 2017 to update stakeholder organisations.

Statutory and voluntary sector organisations with an interest in equality are invited to the seminar. It will begin with lunch at 12.30pm and it will take place between 1pm and 2pm.

Alongside NICCY staff giving a presentation, a representative from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) will also give a short presentation focusing on next steps and how the ECNI intends to ensure the implementation of its recommendations and advice to seminar participants on actions to take where similar issues arise. Following this there will be an opportunity for open discussion and questions.

If you would like to attend the seminar, please register at https://agegfsseminar.eventbrite.co.uk by 22nd May.

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact Natalie Whelehan (028 90311616, natalie@niccy.org) or  Ken Smyth (028 90311616 or ken@niccy.org).

In December 2015, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People made a complaint to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland highlighting failures by The Executive Office to consult with children and young people appropriately when it was proposed they be excluded from age discrimination protections.

The Equality Commission upheld NICCY’s complaint and found that The Executive Office (TEO) was deficient in terms of directly seeking the views of children and young people under 16, removing barriers and ensuring accessibility for this age group and making relevant information available to them. In particular, they identified:

  • The limitations of the information that was provided to children and young people to ensure meaningful consultation including detail and evidence on the policy proposal;
  • An adult focused method of advising of the consultation (e.g. newspaper advertisements and the social media sites of the NI Executive, as opposed to through schools and youth groups);
  • An adult focused method of carrying out the consultation (e.g. meetings and roundtables, as opposed to the specialist engagement to specifically obtain children’s views);
  • The limitations of the ‘young person friendly guide’ for younger children in terms of language, style and content of the examples used.

The Equality Commission recommended that a consultation specific to the needs of children and young people, on Age GFS legislation should be carried out. This consultation should properly seek the views of children and young people; remove barriers to the participation of children and young people in the consultation and provide all information relevant to children and young people. The results of this consultation should then be used alongside the results of the earlier consultation in considering how to move the legislation forward. The Equality Commission gave the Government 3 months to report on its progress on the consultation with the children and young people. 

For more information see:

You can view the full report by ECNI in response to NICCY’s complaint.
NICCY’s response to ECNI upholding its complaint

 

Previous public consultation (Autumn 2015)

The Evidence

Despite being presented with an abundance of evidence telling them why all children and young people under 18 should be included in this protection, (then) Junior Ministers Bell and McCann announced that proposals would only apply to people aged 16 and over.

Expert evidence has told us that there is no legal reason why children and young people of all ages shouldn't be included in and protected by this legislation.

NICCY will be working to make sure that all children and young people are protected in this legislation. 

You can find out more information here.