Party Education spokesperson Trevor Lunn MLA will move the amendments to the Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill, which received its first stage reading in the chamber today (Monday). However, there is no specific mention of homophobic or racist bullying throughout the Bill, an error Mr Lunn said he intended to fix with amendments later in the process.
“Bullying in any shape or form is unacceptable and must be eradicated from our society. Therefore the introduction of proposed anti-bullying laws has to be welcomed and I hope it becomes enshrined in legislation before the end of this Assembly mandate.
“However, under current guidelines, homophobic and racist bullying incidents are not classified as such but rather grouped under hate crimes. These acts are a serious and ongoing problem in our society and we must have all the tools required to stop such intimidating behaviour.
“In order to achieve a shared future for all the people of Northern Ireland, we must have equal rights for everyone from all backgrounds. This Bill is in the position to make a strong statement against those who commit homophobic or racist bullying and it is essential we take that opportunity.”