Services & Sexual Orientation

Services & Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Discrimination on the ‘sexual orientation ground’ happens where there is less favourable treatment of one person compared to another person because one has a different sexual orientation.

‘Sexual orientation’ is defined as heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual.

People cannot discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation:

  • when they are providing goods and services to the public generally or, a section of the public;
  • whether these are free or where the goods and services are sold, hired or rented or exchanged; or
  • when providing access to and the use of any place or or facility.

What's covered?

The Equal Status Acts 2000–2018:

  • promote equality;
  • prohibit certain kinds of discrimination (with some exemptions) across a number of specified grounds (Age, Civil Status, Disability, Family Status, Gender, Membership of the Traveller Community, Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation);
  • prohibit sexual harassment and harassment across a number of specified grounds;
  • prohibit victimisation;
  • require reasonable accommodation of people with disabilities;
  • allow a broad range of positive action measures.

The Equal Status Acts also implement the following two EU Directives – the Race Directive and the Gender Goods and Services Directive.

What's not covered?

There are several significant exemptions in the Equal Status Acts that apply to the provision of goods and services. The Equal Status Acts allow for people to be treated differently in certain circumstances.

These exemptions should be read restrictively and should not be allowed to restrict unduly the general prohibition on discrimination.

Case Studies

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What's next?

Make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is the body that hears discrimination complaints under Ireland’s equality laws. The WRC deals with both employment and service/goods related claims. There is no fee to bring a case to the WRC and complaints can be made online.

Learn more about the WRC process

Contact us

We, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, have a statutory role to fight discrimination and provide information on equality and human rights in Ireland. Please note however that we are not a court and we do not decide on discrimination claims.

Learn more about how to contact us

Contact another organisation

You may find that another organisation could better help you with your issue.

Public Services
Private Services
  • Employment rights / Equal treatment in services

    Workplace Relations Commission

  • Social welfare information

    Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

  • Social welfare appeals

    Social Welfare Appeals Office

  • Transgender persons

    Teni Transgender Equality Network Ireland

  • LGBTI+ support services

    BeLonG To Youth Services

  • LGBTI+ support services


  • LGBTI+ support services

    LBGT Ireland

  • Unfair treatment by a public body

    Office of the Ombudsman

  • Rights and welfare of children

    Ombudsman for Children’s Office

  • Child protection

    Tusla Child and Family Agency

  • Standards in health and social care services

    The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA)

  • Mental health services

    Mental Health Commission

  • Practices by a GP

    Medical Council

  • Consumer and competition rights

    Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

  • Declined insurance

    Declined Insurance Cases of Insurance Ireland

  • Legal advice

    Free Legal Advice Centres

  • Legal aid

    The Legal Aid Board

  • Citizen's Information Centres

    Citizen's Information

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