Belfast Live – BY LISA SMYTH
The rally outside Belfast City Hall is just the latest event calling for equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Northern Ireland
Up to 400 people have taken part in a rally calling for same sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
It comes after last week’s overwhelming yes vote to allow gay people to get married in the Republic of Ireland and just days before Belfast City Council debates the subject.
Speakers at the event outside Belfast City Hall included People Before Profit Alliance councillor Gerry Carroll, Green Party councillor Ross Brown, Malachi O’Hara from the Rainbow Project and the outspoken Rev Chris Hudson from All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church on Elmwood Avenue in south Belfast.
He hit out angrily at the position of churches across Ireland in relation to same sex marriage.
“They advised the Irish people to vote no as it went against their teachings and the Irish people said, ‘If you don’t mind reverend gentlemen and reverend ladies, we won’t take your advice on this one”, and they went out and showed absolute solidarity with the LGBT community by voting yes.
“This is not an issue between people of faith and the LBGT community and don’t let any fundamentalist Christians tell you that’s true.”
The event was organised by 17-year-old Padraigin Mervyn.
She explained: “I decided to organise this event because I had seen that our Irish brothers and sisters had won their referendum.
PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty ImagesA couple watch the count at a count centre in Dublin
“I knew that there was hype up North so I discussed with my political party, People Before Profit, and decided while momentum was high I would get an event page set up on Facebook.
“The aim of this event is to begin a wave of protests in attempt to challenge our government, and raise awareness that the LGBT community will no longer sit back and be oppressed.
“No longer do we want to be regarded as second class citizens, it’s time for the people of Northern Ireland to fight back.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International, the Rainbow Project and Irish Congress of Trade Unions are organising a march calling for same sex marriage to be implemented in Northern Ireland at Writer’s Square in Belfast at 2.30 pm on June 13.