Out-take from Gay Star No. 2
July / August 1980


During the recent Gay Pride Week in London, members of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association were attacked at a meeting organised by the Gay Activists Alliance by supporters of the Troops Out Movement who argued that we should not be making any demands for a change in the law.  They said that the Government, which could make those changes, the Westminster Government, is a foreign Government which has no business legislating for Northern Ireland. By demand-ing changes in the law we are recognising the right of this foreign Government to rule over us.
It’s funny how one always has to go to London to hear arguments like that.  No one here has ever suggested that we put our interests into cold storage until the great day when Mr. Haughey becomes our Prime Minister.  Whether we want to see a united Ireland or maintain the union with Great Britain, the argument is stupid and only English people – or people who have been living a long time in England – could have thought of it.

NIGRA is solely concerned with improving the lot of homosexuals in Northern Ireland.  It contains members with nationalist sympathies and members with unionist sympathies.  NIGRA as such will continue to work for gay people whatever government is in power.  We don’t argue that our interests are necessarily more important than the Constitutional question, but we leave it to members who feel strongly on either side of that question to join whatever other political bodies they like, without their decision prejudicing their membership of NIGRA.
At present, Northern Ireland exists as a region governed by Westminster and separate from the Republic.  There is no point in us asking favours from Mr Haughey who – in the unlikely event of his wanting to – can do nothing for us.  Westminster is the government with which we have to deal.  If that situation changes, we will change with it.
But perhaps our interests are affected by such ‘political’ considerations.  One thing we can probably all agree is that we don’t want to be governed by Dr Paisley who has been very active in opposition to us.  Paisley is very popular in Northern Ireland not because of his campaign against us, but because he has represented himself as the most hard line opponent of a united Ireland.  And, rightly or wrongly, most of the people living here are strongly opposed to a united Ireland.

Because of Paisley’s popularity, any devolved government in Northern Ireland – whether it is relatively powerless thing proposed by Humphrey Atkins [the then Secretary of State – upstart 2013] or a full-blown independent Parliament – is likely to be headed by Paisley.  That is not a prospect that can fill us with delight.  So we are not enthusiastic about the idea of having a devolved government in Northern Ireland.
Furthermore, although the law in the rest of the United Kingdom is far from satisfactory, it is still better than the law here and in the Republic (where, in both places, the pre-1967 laws are still in force).
We are therefore pressing for the same laws to apply throughout the UK.  And in that general principle we have – according to a recent opinion poll – the support of over 90% of both Protestants and Catholics.  For most people, homosexuality is a marginal issue and, in what they would see as the main issues, we have always had much the same legislation as the rest of the UK, since Stormont used to pursue a ‘step by step’ policy of keeping in line with Westminster.  For example, we have the welfare legislation Labour introduced after the war [WW2 – upstart 2013] despite the fact that our largely Tory devolved government disliked it.  Since there is no great desire for legislation that is very different from that passed at Westminster, it seems that, so long as we remain in the UK, there is no need for us to have any sort of devolved Parliament.

But the Troops Out supporters aren’t interested in such a modest, ‘reformist’ approach.  They think that we should throw our interests as homosexuals to the winds, and lend all our support to efforts to get rid of the army (i. e. that we should join the Provisionals.  Or possibly the Irish Independence Party [the ‘double-I’ P, now defunct. It, like the People’s Democracy, ‘kept the seats warm’ for Sinn Féin – upstart 2013] who are the only people who are calling immediate withdrawal of the troops).  The likely result of the immediate withdrawal of the troops (after a period of open and vicious warfare) would be the establishment of an independent Ulster – with Paisley on top.  If there were to be a united Ireland, the troops would have to enforce it.  Is this what these people want?  Is it what they think we should want?
No.  We are not prepared to campaign for the removal of the troops.  And we are even prepared to oppose the removal of the troops unless there is some guarantee that it won’t result in a (possibly smaller) Paisleyite state.  And as long as we are in the UK, we want (at least) the same laws as far as homosexuals are concerned as prevail in the rest of the UK.  In making this demand, we expect the support of everyone throughout the UK who is involved in gay politics.  And we support them in their search for further changes.  AS far as those of us who want to see a united Ireland are concerned, that no more compromises their principles than demanding better pay and conditions would compromise the principles of a trade unionist who wanted to see a united Ireland.
The only possible effect of the policy proposed by the Gay Activists Alliance would be to split us into a Republican Gay Rights Movement and a Loyalist Gay Rights Movement, both of them subjecting their particular interests as gays to the greater interest of their respective ’causes’.  We are not prepared to oblige them.
Semi-editorial written, probably by Peter Brooke, then – 1980 – GS Editor.

Gay adoption: Northern Ireland ban lifted

BBC News : Gay adoption ruling from Supreme Court

A ban on gay and unmarried couples applying to adopt children in Northern Ireland has been removed.

They may now apply in the same way as heterosexual couples.

Health Minister Edwin Poots had tried to challenge an appeal court decision to extend adoption rights to gay couples.

However, the Supreme Court said the Department of Health’s argument for appeal did not meet the criteria.

Previously, a single gay or lesbian person could adopt children in Northern Ireland, but a couple in a civil partnership could not.

In June, the Court of Appeal ruled that the ban based on relationship status was held to discriminate against those in civil partnerships and to breach their human rights.

Northern Ireland was the only part of the United Kingdom where that policy existed.

Now, the law in Northern Ireland is in line with the rest of the UK.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Following the Court of Appeal judgement in June 2013, unmarried couples, including same sex couples, and those in a civil partnership may apply to adopt.

“The final decision regarding the granting of an adoption order will lie with the court.”


Further reading and links:

  1. BBC News

Northern Ireland's LGBT Community Disenfranchised Again

We need to see delivery from Office of First Minster and Deputy First Minister (OFMdFM) – Nesbitt
Ulster Unionist Party leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has called for delivery from OFMdFM on the Sexual Orientation Strategy.

Mr Nesbitt, who is also Chair of the OFMdFM Committee, said:“The Sexual Orientation Strategy is becoming one of the longest running sagas of devolution. We have been waiting seven years for a strategy to be produced, following the consultation process of 2006.

“The Assembly was given a commitment by then Junior Minister Robin Newton in 2010 that a strategy was imminent. Then last year Junior Minister Jonathan Bell said we would see the strategy by the end of 2012; again, it didn’t appear. Then in Together: Building a United Community a commitment was given to publishing a sexual orientation strategy before the end of 2013, and lo and behold it hasn’t appeared.

“So where is it? It’s a Programme for Government commitment and after seven years, it’s non-appearance is also conclusive proof of the dysfunctionality of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
“The purpose of the strategy is to address issues faced by the LGBT community in Northern Ireland, so it is a very important document. Is it now going to become a yearly event where we mark the non-publication of the Sexual Orientation Strategy? If it weren’t so serious, this debacle would be laughable.

“If OFMdFM are serious about building a shared future in Northern Ireland, publishing the sexual orientation strategy would send out a strong message. We need to see delivery on this; it cannot and should not be allowed to rumble on any longer.”

Ulster Unionist Press Office
Room 215 Parliament Buildings


Further reading:

  1. OFMandDFM – Sexual Orientation
  2. BBC News MLAs Support Sexual Orientation Motion


Gay-to-straight conversion therapy in the UK

Request received via email – My name is Declan Harvey. I am journalist with BBC News at Radio 1

A parliamentary debate is being held in Westminster on plans
to regulate psychotherapists in the UK. Geraint Davies MP, who proposed
the bill, is very concerned in particular about the practice of
so-called ‘gay-to-straight conversion therapy’ in the UK.

As I’m sure you are aware the ‘treatment’ has been debunked by all the
major bodies. It is deemed unsuccessful and harmful. However it does
still take place in the UK and thus obviously there is a (albeit small)
demand for the service.

Radio 1 Newsbeat reaches 41% of all 15-24 year olds in the UK and this
is obviously an issue that affects and interests them.

I am contacting your organisation to see if there is anyone there, or
that you know of, who may be willing to share their experiences (and
thus, I assume, concerns) about ‘reparative therapy’. I want to stress
from the outset that all contributions *_can be completely anonymous_*.
There are techniques we use regularly which protect our contributors’

It is vital to us that we hear from a real case study, as our younger
audience engage better with them, rather than experts, spokespeople or

This is an important issue, which we are keen to cover /in the coming
week/ to tie in with the debate. If there is someone who you think may
be willing to take part please pass them my details. I would be happy to
take their call, if only to answer any questions they may have before
making a final decision. Essentially we are hoping to carry out a
pre-recorded interview.

As I said, their contributions can be 100% anonymous if they so wish.
There is no risk of identification to our audience, but it is important
to us their story is told.

Kindest thanks for your time already; I’m hopeful of hearing from you.


*Declan Harvey **(@NewsDeclan)*
*Broadcast Journalist **|**Newsbeat – BBC Radio 1 & Radio 1Xtra*
Zone D|New Broadcasting House|8^th Floor Portland Place|London W1A 1AA

)*07919 315 266 *| *0203 61 41 120*


*_Best News & Current Affairs Programme 2013_*- Sony Radio Academy Awards


Further reading:

  1. Parliamentary Business
  2. Pink News

Department for Regional Development – Equality Forum

Today I attended the Department of Regional Development’s Equality Forum, which is a  meeting held annually, and which reviews  all items which affect any group who fall under its umbrella of action.

Whilst today’s meeting was predominantly to do with the impact of road changes on the disabled, and in particular the visually impaired, one area which did get brought to my attention was that of a yearly survey on ‘How Safe Do You Feel on Public Transport.

This survey had had little response from the LGBT community, and in the near future the Department will be forwarding me details of their questions which I will reissued on their behalf.

I would ask that everyone complete this survey, even those who generally use their own transport, as your views count.

[highlight color=”pink”]PLEASE WATCH THIS SPACE FOR FUTURE UPDATES[/highlight]



Has everyone registered to vote who has signed the Poots resignation petition?

Since Monday, over 7,500 people have signed an online petition calling for Northern Ireland’s health minister, Edwin Poots MLA to resign or be removed from his post as a result of his funding of appeals against decisions of the High Court. The petition can be found on’s site here.

The petition reads:

“We call on the Northern Ireland Assembly to seek the resignation of Edwin Poots, or for his removal from his post as Health Minister and thus bring to an end his disgraceful waste of public money in pursuit of a personal ”

Why is this important?

Edwin Poots is squandering public money in the pursuit of a personal agenda against unmarried and same sex couples, diverting essential funding from vital and vastly over-stretched NHS services which benefit the entire population. Mr Poots should resign or be removed from his post as Health Minister to end this wanton action.

While public health and social care services struggle to make ends meet, Mr Poots has spent, to date, £17,000 in an effort to ensure unmarried and same sex couples are denied the opportunity to adopt children in turn, denying children the best opportunity to a loving and stable family environment.

Justifying his action with 7 year old data which, by his own department’s admission, is flawed in the very way in which it was obtained, he intends to continue this campaign at the High Court, with the approximate final cost being £40,000.

Mr Poots has also wasted £37,000 in ensuring gay men who wish to donate blood are denied from doing so. This is at complete odds with blood donation advice in every other part of the UK and demonstrates utter incompetence and complete disregard for the public purse and more importantly, the NHS he has stewardship over.

Already signed? Want to make your voice heard?

RegistertoVoteWhen you have signed the petition there is another way to make sure your voice is heard in the democratic process – make sure that you are registered to vote.

The Electoral Office of Northern Ireland is conducting its General Canvass at the moment with registration day being 27 September 2013. By now, all residents of Northern Ireland should have received a registration form. If you have not, please go to the Electoral Office’s website to register there.

Speaking at the launch of the canvass Graham Shields, the Chief Electoral Officer, said;

‘Being on the Electoral Register safeguards your democratic right to vote and ensures that you have your say in elections. Even if you don’t intend to exercise your right to vote, it still remains a legal obligation to register. Registering to vote is easy and I would ask everyone to take just a few minutes to complete the registration form and return it to us by the 27 September deadline.’

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Do LGBT people use NI Libraries? If so, what are your views?

NIGRA Secretary, Dave McFarlane has been corresponding with Sean Beattie from Libraries NI about the the LGBT community’s use of the Library service. Sean is keen to meet with members of Northern Ireland’s LGBT community to discuss:

  • How often people who identify as LGBT use the library service?
  • What you use the library service for?
  • What you would look for when using the library (internet access, LGBT section etc)?

Sean is keen to carry out a survey across the LGBT community in Northern Ireland along the same theme.

LibrariesNIAnyone interested in meeting Sean and working to improve the LGBT provision in NI libraries, please contact Dave McFarlane directly using the form below:

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Health Minister spends nearly £100k with no benefit for public health – and still he wants to spend more

During Assembly Question Time on Tuesday 17 September, Northern Ireland’s health minister, Edwin Poots MLA defended his use of public funds for the appeal to the Supreme Court over gay adoption and the gay blood ban when asked a question put to him by Chris Lyttle MLA, one of the Alliance Party’s representatives for East Belfast asked the minister:

why he is using scarce public funds for legal cases against blood donation and adoption when his responsibility is to deliver a system that assesses the health and safety of blood donation and decides whether parental placements are in the best interests of a child. (AQT 75/11-15)

Minister defends use of funds

The DUP Minister responded:

Stormont Northern IrelandI was not aware that I went to court with anyone.  However, when someone takes you to court, you have to respond; it would be quite foolish not to do so.  It is very interesting that public money is being used by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which is a publicly funded body, in taking the Government to court, and legal aid is being used.  We await the outcome of one of those cases in the not-too-distant future.  Let us just see what happens.

On the issue of gay adoption, let us be absolutely unequivocal:  I am just after saying that we need to pay attention to the public when they speak.  When the direct rule Minister held a consultation, it revealed that over 95% of the community was opposed to gay adoption.  It strikes me that some Assembly Members would prefer the courts, as opposed to this House, to make decisions.  With respect to the courts, the Assembly is elected to represent the people of Northern Ireland, and it is a crucial part of the democratic process.  We would do well to pay attention to the democratic will, and that is exactly what I am doing.  I have to say that my stance was further strengthened last week when a piece of Queen’s University Belfast research on looked-after children was published by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.  The longitudinal report, started in 2003 and published only last week, found that 99% of children who had been adopted here had stability — 99% of children in adoptive circumstances in Northern Ireland find stability.

That was because — the report included this — of the rigorous assessment process that takes place.  So I make no apologies for not repairing something that is not broken in the first place.

Responding to the supplementary question from Chris Lyttle, Edwin Poots continued:

[It] is a matter for the courts in the decisions that they make and the arguments that are put.  Let me be absolutely clear:  the European Court of Human Rights has found that there is no human right to adopt.  Let us just nail that at the outset.  This is not about adopters; it is about the children.

In Northern Ireland, we are in a different circumstance from the rest of the United Kingdom, in that we do not have as many children on the waiting list for adoption as is the case in England, Scotland and Wales.  Northern Ireland has a very robust adoption system, and I would have brought and am prepared to bring adoption legislation to the House to upgrade and improve it.  However, because others decided to rush to court, that has been delayed.  That is damaging to democracy, and I would have thought that Mr Lyttle should be a defender of democracy instead of trying to do down democracy.  He may wish to do things through the courts; I would rather do things through the ballot box.

I don’t believe for one second that Chris Lyttle is not a defender of democracy, but the Minister seems to fail to understand that Northern Ireland is subject to laws that do not originate here. Although we have devolution from the Westminster Parliament, this does not give Northern Ireland ministers the right to ignore what the courts say.

Nearly £100k spent already

money20sAs for the costs, Green Party MLA, Steven Agnew has been told by the Minister that he has spent around £40k on defence of the ban on gay men donating blood and around £40k defending the case on adoption by civil partners, with £17k in addition appealing the decision by the High Court. Steven Agnew said,

The Minister’s stance, despite the weight of evidence against him, has generated considerable expense to the public purse with zero benefit to public health in Northern Ireland.

Thanks to Steven and Chris for their work on this

I must thank both Chris Lyttle and Steven Agnew for their work raising this issue in the Assembly. Exposing what the Executive is doing with public money especially when financial budgets are tighter than many would like is one role that our MLAs are very good at doing. Many thanks to both of you, keep up the good work!

First Minister wants to ‘move Northern Ireland forward’ – pity his colleague in Health department is set to take us backwards

In October 2012 the High Court in Northern Ireland ruled that the ban on same-sex couples here adopting children is unlawful. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision in June of this year when the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s appeal was dismissed. Today we hear that the DUP Minister of Health, Edwin Poots MLA is appealing this decision to the Supreme Court.

Earlier this week the Rt Hon Peter Robinson MP MLA, First Minister of Northern Ireland wrote an opinion piece for the Belfast Telegraph, it is reproduced helpfully on the DUP website. At the top of that page on their site the DUP say that the First Minister

argues that a peaceful future can only be built on mutual respect, tolerance and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law and the democratic process.”

Well I have news for him, the actions of his Executive colleague suggest that the DUP does not like it when the law says one thing and they want to do the opposite. As John O’Doherty from The Rainbow Project says,

It is not the place of the courts to implement the personal prejudices of Ministers.”

Like the President of NUS–USI, Rebecca Hall, I think that this is disgraceful that the Minister is using public money to fund this action.

Does the Minister not accept the ruling of the High Court as well as that of the Court of Appeal? Does he believe that the Northern Ireland government is above the law? Read more of this post


Originally posted at HIV Blogger: living positively

Australian LGBT Refugees – Stop them sending them to Papua New Guinea

Australia has just guaranteed that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) refugees, who arrive by boat, will be sent to Papua New Guinea – where being gay could get you 14 years in jail.Australia is one of the few countries in the region that openly accepts LGBT people. It has always been a safe haven for refugees fleeing persecution. Now, only weeks out from an election, the government has thrown together this controversial policy in the hope of winning votes. Worse yet, the opposition party are proposing an even more extreme policy.

The policy has already begun to backfire, with Australians taking to the streets in protest and former Prime Ministers publicly denouncing the move. Local outrage has all parties contesting the election scrambling to respond.

Will you join the call for Australia to drop its dangerous new policy that denies hope and safety to those who they need it most?

In Papua New Guinea, it’s a crime to be gay. Because of that, any person seeking asylum there can automatically be turned away. Every LGBT person who arrives by boat will have little choice but to lie about who they are to avoid being sent home.

With their reputation under attack, Australia’s leaders could be pushed to stop violating the Geneva Conventions and protect the most vulnerable.

Sign this petition and tell Australia that you won’t stand for this:

The full policy states that all people arriving by boat to seek asylum will be relocated to Papua New Guinea where their refugee claims will be assessed, and only then allowed to settle in the community. Legal experts have already denounced the plan for breaching international law. It is singling out people on boats for taking the last resort available to them.

Hiding on a leaky boat, crossing some of the world’s most dangerous oceans, is the most difficult way to reach such an isolated country. No one would take such a risky boat journey if their very lives weren’t on the line.

Will you sign the petition against the Australian government’s plan to force people back into danger?

All Out’s first ever campaign successfully halted the deportation of Ugandan lesbian Brenda Namagadde from the UK back to her home country. Since then, we’ve become a powerful movement of over 1.7 million people fighting anti-gay laws around the world. Take a stand against Australia’s unfair targeting of asylum seekers – sign the petition:

Thanks for going All Out.

Andre, Hayley, Jeremy, Marie, Marie-Marguerite, Sara, and the rest of the All Out team.


UN refugee agency raises more concerns over Labor’s PNG solution – The Guardian,  26 July 2013

Rudd plan in tatters as camps labelled ‘gulags’ – Sydney Morning Herald, 25 July 2013

Coalition wants military led campaign against people smugglers – ABC, 25 July 2013

How to break the people smugglers real business model – Inside Story, 25 July 2013

More than a legal issue, PNG plan challenges core principles – Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 2013


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