Melissa’s* children and nieces were prevented from entering a store because of their age and lack of adult supervision. They were 13, 14 and 8 years of age. Melissa contacted the Helpline as she felt this refusal of entry was a form of discrimination. Melissa was informed that generally, shops are permitted to place restrictions on people under the age of 18 entering without adult supervision. Melissa was directed to Section 3(3)(a) of the Equal Status Act 2000 states that “Treating a person who has not attained the age of 18 years less favourably or more favourably than another whatever that person’s age shall not be regarded as discrimination on the age ground.” This means that where a person under the age of 18 is treated differently on the grounds of their age as compared to a person over the age of 18, it does not amount to discrimination. While it is sometimes necessary to treat children differently on the basis of age, for example by refusing them access to nightclubs or casinos, the current blanket application of Section 3(3)(a) of the Equal Status Act can result in unequal access to services for children and young people, like Melissa’s children and nieces. For this reason, the Children’s Rights Alliance is calling for Section 3(3)(a) of the Equal Status Act to be removed and replaced with a power for the Minister for Justice to exempt certain services (such as nightclubs serving alcohol) from a general ban on discrimination on the basis of age against children.

*Names have been changed to protect identities