Government is put in place to govern, that we can all accept. However it is supposedly done on the basis of consent and democracy. Government is supposed to listen to the electorate (not just at ballot and election time) but throughout the duration of its time in office! In consequence, I would draw First Minister Arlene Foster’s attention to the Mori poll published in the Belfast Telegraph in June of this year, which shows that 70% of the electorate agrees with gay marriage. (Survey shows 70% support for same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland) – this poll clearly indicates that the electorate has moved on, and that gay marriage is acceptable. How much longer will the DUP continue to bury not just its head, but its whole body in the sand about what is a right – this is about equality and fairness. Dave McFarlane, Community Journalist
Attempts to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland are set to be thwarted for at least another five years after the Democratic Unionists insisted they would continue to block a
Jeff Dudgeon MBE, is part of the history of Northern Ireland, and with his court case made the case for homophobia to be abolished in N Ireland. Unfortunately until 1982 it was still a crime to be a homosexual in Ulster, indeed people were still persecuted under other laws for being gay, and their lives destroyed by what can only be called vindictive police cases which should never have ended up in court subsequent to this repeal.
Today, liFe has improved, but there are still problems; only within the last two weeks was a gay man attacked for challenging two men passing by who called him’queer’ and other words.
People are regularly still harassed in their homes. and probably more worrying is that fact that being young and gay is still open to abuse in schools, colleges and universities.
This is not acceptable in today’s world, and the more that we stand up against any form of persecution the more we as human beings earn the right to be called ‘human’.
Mary McAleese has said homophobia should be consigned to history in Northern Ireland.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Heritage Initiative – US national park service
LGBT History is Important
For a number of years it has become clear that LGBT history is disappearing as our societies members have aged and their stories (which our our stories) disappear with their deaths or the onset of illnesses.
Our History is Disappearing
For Ireland this is compounded by the fact that so many of the LGBT community have had to leave the island to find work, relationships and just to be safe. Today these things have been reduced, but the economic crisis of the last few years, and the impending impact of Brexit may well see further departures.
The LGBT society in both parts of the island of Ireland need to start thinking urgently on how we should capture and then make available our history. This will ensure our past, and also help our future, and will provide a wonderful resource for teachers and other groups/individuals.
A mechanism that might be considered is working with the museums in Ireland who have depositories to see if we can get access combined into a timeline – obviously this will take time and resources, but I believe that a small group could achieve a lot in this regard.
If you feel that you are interested then please get in contact and we can see if we can form that working group.
The American National Park Service has produced a wonderful book in two parts about LGBT History in the USA – the publication LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History is available for download in PDF format – this is just another example of what can be done with the right active group and money.
If you’ve never heard of Roger Casement, who was executed by the British for treason 100 years ago today, the reason is as simple as it is sad, he was homosexual. For that reason he was ignored when he was not being written out of our revolutionary history.
Jeffrey Dudgeon, MBE has written two wonderful insightful books into Casement,
- Roger Casement: The Black Diaries – with a study of his background, sexuality, and Irish political life Paperback – 5 Jan 2016
- Roger Casement’s German Diary, 1914-1916: Including ‘A Last Page’ and associated correspondence Paperback – 24 Jun 2016
- His Antrim father fought in Afghanistan
- His Anglican mother secretly baptised him as a Catholic
- He was looked after by the people of Antrim after his parents died
- He exposed one of the bloodiest colonial regimes ever
- What he saw changed him
- He sought German backing for an Irish rebellion during WWI
- Some see him as a gay icon
- Arthur Conan Doyle campaigned against his sentence
- He converted to Catholicism on the day of his execution
- A hundred years on from the Easter Rising, it’s important to remember Casement
However, as with all history, it is open to interpretation, and I know that different camps will have different feelings towards Casement, his impact on Irish history, and on Gay History.
The musical about him was one such attempt, and I hope that if it comes to a theatre near you, you will make an effort to see it and view it through the eyes of someone who is probably far older than he was, and also who has the benefit of a society that is beginning to be accepting of LGBT people.
History to everyone is important, but for those who have not been able to have their full identity because of family or societal pressures, or laws which punished their very existence, history can become a poison chalice. It is extremely comforting to know, that one country, which even though it still has its share of bigots and organisations which seek to continue this persecution, is moving forward and recognising the LGBT community and taking note of its history – in this case it is the National Park Service of America.
Positively, I have just heard that the Scottish Government is seeking to pardon all those LGBT people who have a criminal record due to draconian laws which punished you for being gay!
Unfortunately, due to government filibustering, England and Wales will have to wait for some time for Westminster to bring forward a possible legal instrument for doing the same job.
And for Northern Ireland, the political posturing of both the main parties, means that it is highly unlikely that any law will see the statue books within the next 5 years.
The laws were unjust within the UK, and because of them so much of our history has been lost, as people rightly seeked to protect themselves and their families; I hope that sometime soon we can stat to put together our own history and to have it incorporated into the mainstream history – it is jsut as valid, and when you consider people like Alan Turing and how he and others in other professions helped to win our freedoms, then we must strive to get equal.
Breaking news & opinion from the B.A.R.
As with all reporting, you need to take a step back and try to see if it is balanced. Lovely headlines do not make for in depth reporting. Yes, the Russian fleet (or part of it) did sale up the North Sea; however we did know about it, it was a planned sailing, so why the big headlines from the papers. Secondly, Russia is doing no more today than it has been doing for the last 10 plus years, and whilst the West is in disarray it will continue to do so!
If the UK, which is now going to disconnect from Europe, is worried then it needs a cohesive defence plan, not the piece meal one which it now seems to offer to its voting population. If we have restrictions due to our balance sheet, then we must be realistic about what we can and can’t do.
For me the worrying thing in Russia, is its backward stepping in terms of LGBT rights, the rights of woman and in particular their right to a free, safe abortion when necessary. For a country which has as its political background and current leanings Communism, it is very funny (and not funny amusing) on how much the church and indeed now outside American groups seem to be influencing Russian policy!
Diversity Policies: A policy on workplace diversity: Makes a commitment to anti-discriminatory practices and fosters equal opportunity through the removal of systemic barriers. Can reinforce compliance with human rights legislation. Is a statement of an organization’s values
LGBT diversity policies, procedures, advocacy and impact – Business Insider
Claudia Brind-Woody, vice president and managing director, speaks to BI about LGBT and diversity and how it is shaping the wider tech and business community.
Court Case Settled. A lot has been written over the months regarding this court case, and indeed some of it was factually wrong. The facts were that an order was placed with no intention of setting up any individual, business or organisation up for in-adverse publicity. A contract was entered into, and money was exchange – a normal business transaction. Therefore the contract should have been honoured, possibly with a note to the person who placed the order that the business would not be able to fulfil any future orders of this nature.
A judgement from the court has now been made, the decision reach, and it is now time to step back and try to move on amicably.
Judges uphold ruling that Ashers Bakery discriminated against gay man by refusing to make cake with pro-gay marriage slogan
I asked a friend who is retired with a wide set of experiences in dealing with Human Rights, to give me his impression on the removal of the Human Rights Act from the UK, and what impact it would have.
He believes that repealing this Act which brings into domestic law the European Convention on Human Rights, will be a difficult job for the UK Government. Attempts here (N Ireland) to have a Bill of Rights expanding on those rights conferred by HRA are doomed in the short to medium term, despite the Good Friday obligations. He is part of the Human Rights Consortium and during the past 10 years or more since he started to attend, virtually no progress has been made.
He believes that Brexit will further complicate matters as various parts of these islands work out relationships between each other and the EU.
On the Consortium, they have encountered a lack of interest in the Bill of Rights, with the UK Government, the Irish Government and the NI Executive playing each other off. The DUP, mean as usual, don’t really have much of an idea about the value of rights, unless they are to their narrow benefit. It’s rather depressing!
He feels that one possibility is that Scotland, opposed to repeal or amendment of the HRA, might have its own Bill of Rights. It has vehemently opposed the “regressive” proposals for a British Bill of Rights.
On a case by case basis, any repeal of the HRA will be aired by the UK courts, ending up in the Supreme Court. The courts will not want to have to do what is essentially the work of Parliament. That relationship between Parliament, Government and Judiciary can be fractious at times, particularly here (N Ireland) where issues such as sexual orientation and abortion grab the attention of a very religious and conservative Attorney General.
N Ireland is still awaiting the reserved judgements in the two marriage cases and the Ashers appeal. And it looks like the current Attorney General in N Ireland is being very wide in his interpretation of his role, and there have been requests that he stand down or stop pursuing his own agenda which seems to definitely have a very select bias from my own and others observations.
As with all these things we will have to wait and see how things develop, but of one thing I am certain the removal of the current Human Rights Act will not be to our benefit, and I honestly believe that LGBT rights and other diversity groups will suffer if it is taken away.
Links to further reading
NIGRA is on a recruitment drive for you!
The law in Northern Ireland on gay relationships was changed through the actions of NIGRA and Jeff Dudgeon’s legal case which went through the legal system in the United Kingdom and then to the Europen Courts of Human Rights. NIGRA and Jeff did not do this on their own, it was through the efforts of many fundraiser throughout the UK and Ireland that this was managed. The case was won, but the fight still needs to go on to achieve full equality. If you have time and want to help then contact us through our website (https://nigra.org.uk/) – we have room for everyone!
So this is a recruitment plea asking you to give us some time and help us develop the various projects which we have in mind:
- An ‘Online’ LGBT Archive so that we can record our history, both the past and the current as it unfolds. We need to interview the players in out history before they leave us, we also need to develop photographic evidence of artifacts before we arrange for them to be deposited in the Ulster Museum with whom we have now agreed a facility for depositing items like placards, photographs, home videos of historical moments, paintings etc. Documentation can be deposited with the PRONI (Public Records Office Northern Ireland), and we have already done this for items from Jeff’s case and also from PA’s archives
- Monitoring of Stormont and Westminster, particularly now we are through the Brexit vote. We need to ensure that we know what is said and what is planned, and where necessary activate the community as required when we need to pressure our politicians.
These are only two of our projects, there are others, and off course we would welcome suggestions from you.
Please contact us and volunteer.