Thousands in Northern Ireland are demanding referendum on gay marriage

Reprinted from Belfast Live: Exclusive: Thousands in Northern Ireland are demanding referendum on gay marriage

19:29, 28 April 2015 By Jilly Beattie

Three people a minute are signing an online petition calling for the public to have the final say on the future of civil marriage

Chris Torbitt

Chris Torbitt

Three people a minute are signing an on-line petition calling for a referendum on gay marriage in Northern Ireland.

More than 5,000 people already signed up to the petition created by Newtownabbey man Chris Torbitt in its first 24 hours, and the figure is rising fast.

The Northern Ireland Assembly yesterday rejected a proposal calling for the introduction of gay marriage, after debating the issue for a fourth time.

A total of 96 MLAs took part in the vote and 49 voted against the Sinn Féin motion calling for civil marriage equality for all. An other 47 were in favour and of 53 unionists, only four voted yes.

Sinn Féin, SDLP and five Alliance MLAs supported the motion. The DUP opposed it and the Ulster Unionists were given a free vote on the issue.

Now Chris says the people of Northern Ireland should be given the chance to decide.

The 26-year-old, who came out to his mum 13 years ago, told Belfast Live: “Equality is not a luxury, it is a right and at the moment in Northern Ireland civil marriage is not open to everyone therefore people are not being treated with equality.

“I want this to change, thousands of people want this to change and now I am asking people to sign a petition on-line to see how many people feel strongly about this. Our world needs to change, and only we can change it for the better.

“Being gay is not a crime or a choice. I came out to my mum 13 years ago and told my dad two years ago. He shook my hand and hugged me and they both told me I am their son first and foremost and anything else comes after their love for me. I wish there were more people like them and I think many people would support civil marriage for all if they were given the chance.

“Today the people of Northern Ireland have the power to effect change here.

“We have the ability right now to show our support to not only our LGBT family and friends but to all LGBT people throughout Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.”

Chris spoke to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness on a live radio show and asked him if he feels the time has come for the NI electorate to supersede the Assembly and vote through a referendum on the LGBT civil marriage issue.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
He said: “His response to this was that he would be in support of a Northern Ireland referendum around this issue as he believes it would be successful.

“So now I’m asking people to send a message to Europe and the rest of the world that Northern Ireland is not the backward, bigoted, sectarian, stuck-in-the-past country that we are perceived to be.

“Instead we can be seen as a nation of people that will stand up for what’s right, stand up for equality, support one another and welcome all people of difference to our shore.

“Let’s show our politicians that it’s not up to them, we the people demand to be heard.

“For more than 30 years this little country has been plagued by bitter, bigoted, sectarian issues that even today are still unfortunately finding roots.

“Thankfully in today’s society this is a considerable minority as most of the inhabitants here want to move beyond to a bright and prosperous Northern Ireland where everyone is treated with respect, dignity and equality.

“This is not a political issue. This is not ‘orange and green’. This is simply about people who love one another so much that they would like to spend the rest of their lives together.

“Some may ask why they need to get married – can’t they just live together and share their life together or even get civil partnered? Won’t this change the definition of marriage?

“Civil Partnership does not provide the same protections to a spouse that Civil Marriage would. It is not the same thing.

“Marriage is something that everyone contemplates growing up. By not allowing LGBT people access to this they are being treated like second-class citizens; unworthy of the same legal standing as heterosexual couples.

“This in turn tells young people that it is wrong to be LGBT and therefore encourages a negative environment in which they feel they are abnormal and there is something wrong with them. This can have serious ramifications on mental health and physical wellbeing.

“Why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to get married the same as heterosexual couples? LGBT couples should be able to live life the same as heterosexual couples, make similar plans.

“Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that does not have equal marriage legislation in place.

“The Republic of Ireland will vote through referendum to accept or reject equal marriage legislation. Polls currently indicate that equal marriage will pass in the ROI referendum.

The petition is attracting huge support
“Civil Marriage will not change the definition of marriage to the detriment of what it currently represents. If we really look at what marriage is about then there is no reason to exclude LGBT people.

“The very essence of marriage is about love. Love between two people that want to spend the rest of their life together. Religious institutions will not be forced to provide same-sex ceremonies.

“Churches, mosques, temples etc will not be used for services celebrating same-sex ceremonies unless welcomed by that institution/organisation. Various protections will be built into equal marriage legislation for religious institutions/organisations.

“We need to do this, we need to look forward and move forward together.”

Election 'Fever'

Susan Anne White Independent CandidateWhen we heard that Ms Susan-Anne White was standing as an independent candidate standing for MP in Northern Ireland and has apparently  said she would criminalise adultery and homosexuality, according to a leaflet posted online; we had to take a look at her campaign.


Her manifesto,

For NIGRA what is interesting is that May 2014 Ms White, a Trillick woman,  stood as a candidate for the Omagh area.  At this time we had tried to find out more about Ms White, and were able to come across the a document intorducting the Society and Family Enterprise Party (SAFE) which she stated she belonged to, we again reprint this for your education:

Introducing the


Preliminary Policy proposals

Based upon a radical return to the Judeo-Christian heritage of Western civilization, the alarming moral, social and political crises of our times demand the vision and values of this new party.

Believing that the basic unit of society is the family, at the heart of the SAFEagenda is the reaffirmation of properly-defined marriage and family cohesion. Domestic disintegration is the main cause of our social and political decline. A return to well-established parenting is imperative. The recovery and rectification of fatherhood and motherhood roles is essential to disciplined, happy and well-adjusted child-rearing. The tax system should favour families.


We need to be:

SAFE from growing homosexual militancy (Section 28 being restored).

SAFE from the Darwinian-driven ‘pc’ educational agenda (and inappropriate sex instruction).

SAFE from the neo-fascist and resource-draining EU (impacting our military and other capabilities).

SAFE from the islamification of our culture (with state-assisted emigration of Muslims).

SAFE from every category of criminality (political and corporate, major and petty).

SAFE from decadent priests in apostate churches (Roman Catholic, Anglican and others).

SAFE from over-sexualised and over-violent entertainment (with internet regulation).

SAFE from unethical economics (principled investment, with just pricing and honest labelling).

SAFE from corrupt career politicians (especially those pursuing a ‘gay’ agenda).

SAFE from anti-democratic ‘left’ and ‘right’ extremism (with liberty for peaceable minorities).

This SAFE proposal is floated for your interest.

Dr Alan C. Clifford (a Pastor of the Reformed Faith, with no personal political ambitions, simply a desire to motivate others who might have a patriotic conscience and a concern to do good in these evil days).

‘There shall be showers of blessing…They shall be SAFE in their land; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them’ (Ezekiel 34: 26-7).

‘Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the LORD. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is SAFE’(Philippians 3: 1).


As we have said before, before you vote make certain you know what the candidate stands for, and vote carefully, we may have them in power for 5 years ruling our lives!

Kissing Terrorists

Editorial:  I was unaware of this advertising campaign by Paddy Power until Mr Young from the Belfast Telegraph rang me to ask for our thoughts/observations.  I now reprint the article form the Belfast Telegraph:


Kissing terrorists advert for Republic of Ireland vote condemned

The controversial Paddy Power billboard

The controversial Paddy Power billboard


Gay rights campaigners last night condemned as “tasteless and irrelevant” a billboard portraying two IRA terrorists in balaclavas kissing and cuddling.

Positioned for maximum shock value outside the GPO in O’Connell Street – the headquarters of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising – the giant Paddy Power billboard features two well-dressed men in balaclavas kissing beside the IRA slogan ‘Tiocfaidh Ar La’.

The bookmaker is offering odds for a yes (1/10) and no (5/1) vote in the Republic’s upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage.

Terry McFarlane, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA), hit out at the advertising display.

“This advert is tasteless, irrelevant and unwise,” he said.

“The most offensive thing about it is that it portrays gay men as terrorists.

“I don’t know who they’re trying to appeal to – or what point they’re trying to make.”

A press release for bookmakers Paddy Power said: “Our latest betting on the referendum makes it look rosy in the garden for the YES camp – but don’t be surprised if the NO vote comes from behind to give us all a surprise.”

The NIGRA spokesperson also slammed some MLAs for not taking part in yesterday’s gay marriage vote at Stormont.

Several SDLP and Alliance Party MLAs did not appear to support their parties’ policies in favour of gay marriage.

At 47 in favour and 49 against, yesterday’s vote was very close, he said.

Had the missing MLAs voted with their parties, there would have been a majority of MLAs in favour of gay marriage.

While the DUP’s Petition of Concern would still have prevented the motion from being implemented, Mr McFarlane felt that a majority vote in favour of gay marriage would have sent out a strong signal that it was only a matter of time before gay marriage would be made legal in Northern Ireland.

“But unfortunately once again we are out of step with the rest of the UK,” he said.



Gay rights dominates the social media conversation in Northern Ireland

Reprinted from BBC News (Trending)



Attitudes towards gay people have become a big election issue in Northern Ireland.

It began with a viral video that’s now all over the news. Northern Ireland Health Minister Jim Wells – who is standing in the UK general election for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – was filmed at a hustings last Thursday. “You don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That a child is far more likely to be abused and neglected,” he said.

When the video hit social media it sparked fierce debate. Wells apologised several times for making the comment, saying that he had been under a lot of pressure over recent weeks because his wife is currently unwell and receiving treatment in hospital. On Monday he released a statement saying that he was standing downas health minister to help his wife Grace in her “fight for life.”

The video was uploaded to Twitter by 17-year-old Clare Calvert, who told BBC Trending that she doesn’t support any particular political party “I was attending the hustings because I was there to ask a question to the panel on what they could bring to South Down (the local area) to allow me to live there when I finished university.”

She says that she actually thought Wells did a good job as health minister, but that “his views have alienated so many members of society” that there was no way he could continue in the position.

The video she posted and the intense debate around it are significant developments, given that the DUP is currently the largest Northern Irish party at Westminster. Wells’ name and the debate about attitudes towards gay people have been trending ever since in Northern Ireland – with more than 14,000 tweets so far.

Opponents of the DUP sought to make political capital out of it all. The republican author Danny Morrison has been particularly active, tweeting: “So, Jim Wells suffers from narcolepsy. Looked wide-awake to me.” He also retweeted a widely shared picture of dinosaurs mocking the DUP candidate’s attitudes.

Members of the Labour Party of Northern Ireland also joined in. Writer Adrianne Peltz tweeted: “the next time politicians ask why so many young people are leaving NI, just direct them to @Jim_Wells_MLA & his state sponsored hate speech.”

The SDLP announced on Twitter that they had planned to submit a motion of no confidence in Wells had he not resigned. “He is no longer fit to hold office,” they tweeted. The Sinn Fein assembly member and spokesperson Maeve McLaughlin shared a post by a gay rights charity which read: “We are not a lobby we are a community. Disgusting lies which are harmful and full of hate.”

The chair of the Alliance party’s LGBT group, Mickey Murray, created a petitionwhich called for Wells’ resignation. “Over 8,500 signatures asking for his resignation, over 3,000 more signatures than votes Jim Wells received to get into the assembly,” he tweeted. The Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said Wells “had done the right thing in resigning.”

But some DUP members tried to turn the controversy against rival parties. Doug Beattie wrote: “Jim Wells quits over gay child abuse comments … meanwhile Gerry Adams remains although he knew about child abuse & said nothing.” It was a reference to Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, whose brother Liam was convicted of sexually abusing his daughter (In 2013, Gerry Adams gave an interview in which he admitted that his brother had told him about the abuse).

Wells’ comments came as the Northern Irish assembly held a private members’ debate on marriage equality. And next month in the Republic of Ireland, voters will take part in a referendum on same-sex marriage. A similar law proposed by Sinn Fein was defeated in Northern Ireland by the leading unionist parties in 2013.

Despite stepping down from his ministerial post, Wells is still standing as the DUP candidate in the South Down constituency. The other candidates in South Down are Felicity Buchan of the Conservatives, Chris Hazzard of Sinn Féin, the UUP’s Harold McKee, Henry Reilly of UKIP, the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie and Martyn Todd of the Alliance Party.

Blog by Hannah Henderson

Yes Vote for Marriage Equality

Children’s rights groups urge Yes vote in same-sex marriage referendum

May 22nd offers ‘incredible opportunity’ to look LGBT people in the eye and tell them they are equal

Representatives from the  BeLonG To YES coalition at a meeting on the importance for young people of a ‘Yes’ vote in the same-sex marriage referendum. Organisations involved in the coalition include the ISPCC, Barnardos, Foróige and BeLonG To. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

Representatives from the BeLonG To YES coalition at a meeting on the importance for young people of a ‘Yes’ vote in the same-sex marriage referendum. Organisations involved in the coalition include the ISPCC, Barnardos, Foróige and BeLonG To. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

The same-sex marriage referendum represents an ‘incredible opportunity’ to look young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the eye and tell them they are equal, that they are cared for and respected, a coalition of children’s and youth organisations said on Monday.

BeLonG To YES is the largest coalition of children’s and youth organisations supporting a yes vote in the referendum, including the ISPCC, Barnardos, Foróige, Youth WorkIreland, the Migrant Rights Centre, Headstrong, Yes Equality, the Children’s Rights Alliance, Pavee Point, EPIC and the National Youth Council of Ireland, as well as BeLonG To the national organisation for LGBT young people.

Michael Barron, founding director of BeLong To, said the stakes were very high for LGBT young people in the referendum.

He pointed to research carried out by the Children’s Research Centre at Trinity College in 2009, and supported by the HSE’s national office for suicide prevention, which found that 58 per cent of LGBT young people had endured homophobic abuse, 25 per cent had been threatened with physical violence and 34 per cent had heard homophobic comments from their teachers.

The research also found that 50 per cent of LGBT people under 25 had thought about ending their lives and 20 per cent had attempted to do so.

“A no vote would be a devastating outcome. It would reconfirm to young LGBT people that their all too common experiences of homophobic bullying and rejection are acceptable in Ireland. We would be telling them that their love does not have the same value as everybody else’s, and it would send a hugely damaging message to young people who are already isolated and discriminated against,” he said.

He said societal acceptance was very important for building mental resilience and that the referendum presented an incredible opportunity to demonstrate that acceptance.

He urged young people to make sure they were registered to vote.

Independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout called for a Yes vote in order to send a clear message out to all children in Ireland that they are equal and live in a fair society.

“ This is a children’s rights campaign… I am very comfortable campaigning for marriage equality because for me it’s simply a question of equality, it’s a question of fairness and it’s a question of civil rights,” she said.

She said a lot of the debate had “conflated and confused” civil marriage with religious marriage.

“I am married myself in the Catholic Church and I have no sense whatsoever that my marriage to my husband will in any manner shape or form be altered or undermined by the extension of civil marriage to same sex couples.

“This is about ensuring equality and parity of legal rights,” she said.

Children’s rights organisations advocating a YES vote also campaign, not just at referendum time, on real and significant threats to children’s welfare and well-being such as child poverty, homelessness, the housing crisis, children at risk and children’s health, she added.

Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said children were being used as pawns in the debate and it was very distressing to see.

“ This referendum in no way undermines the rights of the child. If it did why would this coalition of organisations have organised themselves around BelongTo to support a Yes vote. It wouldn’t have happened,” she said.

“If one of my children is gay it is going to break my heart to know the kind of bullying they will be subjected to or the fact they are probably going to consider suicide because they are gay.”

“Voting yes will send a really powerful message to every child in Ireland, to all the LGBT children in Ireland today that they belong, that they are respected and that if they choose to get married and live with someone and commit themselves for the rest of their lives to that person that that choice and that relationlship will be valued and respected.”

Ailish Kerr (22) a member of BelongTo said a yes vote would mean the opportunity for her to be happy and accepted in her own country.

“Do I deserve abuse if I walk down the street holding hands with a girl?.. I can get married to someone completely wrong for me as long as they are male.”

Another member of the organisation, Daniel Zagorski (19), urged people to vote yes so that every child could have the same rights.

Reprinted from The Irish Times First published:Mon, Apr 27, 2015, 15:29 by

LGBT Awareness Week NI 2015 – Challenging Prejudice – Promoting Inclusion

LGBT Awareness Week NI 2015 –  the Launch at Belfast City Hall on Mon 11th May 2015
Challenging Prejudice – Promoting Inclusion

LGBT Awareness Week 2015 – Programme

 Click the link to download programme

LGBT Awareness Week  2015 - Programme-page-001

5 ways to be an informed voter

Reprinted from Mu Society page:



1. Check your MP’s voting record

Parliament’s complex language means it’s not always easy to understand how your MP voted—yet that’s one of the key things you’ll need to know before you decide whether to vote them back in again.

So we’ve put everything into plain English. Now it’s easy to follow, and easy to share. Before the election, make sure you check how your MP voted about the things that matter to you.

2. Try a Voter Advice Application

If you’re not sure who to vote for, there are a whole load of online tools to help you find the candidate best aligned with your beliefs.

We’ve been keeping a list of them here.

3. Check the WriteToThem rankings

Our site allows you to write to politicians—and every year, we analyse which MPs are the best at replying.

Everyone wants an MP who replies to their letters, don’t they? Check where your MP sits in our responsiveness league table: just type in your postcode here.

4. See if you’re still in the same ward

It’s not just the General Election on May 7th: in many places, you’ll be voting for local councillors too.

Thanks to recent boundary changes, you may not be in the ward you thought you were. Fortunately, we’ve made a tool to help you check that.

5. Check out Full Fact

A whole lot of facts are going to be bandied about by politicians, between now and the General Election. How do you know which to believe?

Fortunately, there’s an organisation that’s dedicated to checking every statement, so that you can see the bare facts with no added hyperbole. They’re called Full Fact, and we’ve been helping them out with a bit of tech. Read all about them here.

American Chuck Feeney the key backer for gay marriage in Ireland


Irish American philanthropist and billionaire Chuck Feeney is the key funder of themarriage equality drive in Ireland which will come to a head with a referendum on the right to marry for same sex couples on May 22.

Current polling points to a convincing victory for the same sex marriage side, but experts warn Irish referendums can be decided very late and voters swing wildly.

Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies have committed $475,000 to Marriage Equality Ltd the main group dealing specifically with the issue.

Feeney, the New Jersey-born billionaire, is giving away all of his money, an estimated $7.5 billion, through Atlantic.

A proud Irish American Feeney earmarked over $1 billion of that to be spent on educational, human rights and other projects in ireland. He also played a major role in bedding down the Irish peace process in Northern Ireland.

In addition to funding Marriage Equality, Atlantic has funded the main LGBT lobbying group, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), to the tune of $2.5 million over the past few years.

Atlantic and Feeney identified equality in marriage as one of the key human rights issue they wished to focus on. Their funding helped pass the civil partnership act of 2010. On its website and in a video Atlantic cites other major advances including:

– Secured public referendum on civil marriage, which is scheduled for 2015

– Government creation of a Gender Recognition Advisory Group, the role of which is to make recommendations on how to proceed toward legal frameworks for gender recognition for transgender people

– Secured numerous significant changes in public policy and services to better reflect the needs of LGBT people in areas such as mental healthcare provision and bullying in the education system

– Increased capacities of the LGBT sector

Feeney, 82, a New Jersey native now resident in California, made his money as co-founder of DFS, the largest duty free empire in the world

The working class Irish kid from Elizabeth, NJ has surpassed the Rockefellers and Andrew Carnegie when it comes to charitable giving.

He invented “giving while living,” which is now all the rage. His example directly inspired Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to give it all away too.

One of his most important legacies is that he has convinced so many powerful people there are “no pockets in a shroud” and helping in the here and now is preferable to dribs and drabs over decades.

“Chuck has been an inspiration to both of us for many years and was living the Giving Pledge long before we launched this project,” Bill and Melinda Gates said recently.

“He’s a true innovator and example to anyone who seeks to make the world a better place,” Buffett said.

Election Fever – NI Party Responses to LGBT Questions

LGBTQ Equality & Northern Ireland’s Political Parties 2015

An independent survey on party policies and active records in supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer rights.

NO to Paddy Power!

When you look up the definition of advertising, you are tol that it is ‘the activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services.’  Indeed Chron says, that companies use advertisements as part of a marketing program to increase sales of their products and services. Advertising plays a different role at different stages of the marketing process — helping to raise awareness of a product or service, generating leads for a sales force or selling directly. Companies with retail outlets use advertising to make consumers aware of product availability and increase sales through the outlets.

So why am I highlighting this, well Paddy Power launched a new advertising campaign based around the marriage equality vote.  It states in it advert that the Yes Vote is 1/10 and the No Vote 5/1, which I believe are pretty accurate figures.;

However where I take ‘odds’ with them is the inclusion of two men in balaclavas kissing in its advert, the apparent inference being that ‘gay men’ are terrorists.  I find this advert to be tasteless, irrelevant as apart from the betting figures it has no relevant to marriage equality.  We consider the advert to be really unwise, and hope that Paddy Power will reconsider the advertising company it has used, and indeed the brief that it would have given them.


No to Paddy Power - Tasteless and Irrelevant

No to Paddy Power – Tasteless and Irrelevant