David Ford said: “Alliance strongly supports these regulations. It is sad that over-exaggerated fears are being whipped up by the DUP. There is a real danger that the views that they are expressing will whip up homophobia. The days of discrimination must be over and these new laws will ensure this.
“The laws which exist today cover elements of discrimination against homosexuals, but they still provide less protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation than on other grounds.
“We need a shared future for all the people of Northern Ireland and that means equal rights for everyone from all backgrounds.
“Religious groups are provided with adequate exemptions within this legislation to ensure their own rights.
“Homophobic violence and bullying is a serious problem in this society and we will do all in our power to stop this type of intimidating behaviour.
“It is absolutely essential that every citizen has full access to goods and services. We will oppose every form of discrimination and safeguard the rights of everyone in Northern Ireland.”