Northern Ireland rights groups clash over sectarianism
The Council for Ethnic Minorities has clashed with the Human Rights Commission over whether sectarianism in NI should be seen as a form of racism.
The Human Rights Commission has told a UN committee that sectarianism should be treated as “a subset of racism”.
It said this would strengthen protection provided by human rights law against sectarian discrimination.
However, Ethnic Minorities Council director Patrick Yu said this would be “very unwise”.
Giving evidence to a UN committee in Geneva this week, Mr Yu said that applying race relations law to sectarianism could draw the courts into disputes concerning parades and the Irish language.
“Separate provision exists in law, and police practices, to cover issues of sectarianism, and that is welcome, but using race relations legislation would in our view distract from the very real needs and concerns of the minority ethnic community in NI,” Mr Yu said.
The Human Rights Commission had pointed to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-Sikh discrimination as areas in which it has been accepted there is an overlap between religious and racial discrimination.