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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

BY DAVID YOUNG – 28 APRIL 2015

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.

 

 

'Conscience clause' trading warning

MLA Judith Cochrane warned that a "conscience clause" could lead to a backlash

MLA Judith Cochrane warned that a “conscience clause” could lead to a backlash

The adoption of a “conscience clause” into Northern Ireland trading legislation could trigger a boycott similar to one affecting a US state that adopted a similar law change, the Assembly has been warned.

Indiana’s “religious freedom” law, which critics claim discriminates against the gay community, has seen concerts cancelled, sponsorship for major technology conferences pulled, and the axing of a multimillion-pound company expansion, Alliance MLA Judith Cochrane told members.

She expressed concern over a similar impact on Northern Ireland’s ability to attract investment and major events if the DUP succeeded in passing its contentious amendment to the law.

The DUP’s Paul Givan is proposing a law change that would effectively allow traders to refuse business that they deemed contravened their religious beliefs.

The move comes in the wake of a high profile legal action against Christian bakers in Belfast who refused to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan. A judge has reserved judgment in the case taken by the gay rights activist whose order was declined.

Sinn Fein has vowed to block the passage of the DUP’s Private Member’s Bill at Stormont.

During Assembly Question Time, Mrs Cochrane asked DUP Economy minister Arlene Foster if she was worried about the sort of backlash experienced by Indiana.

“Does the minister share my concern that the proposed conscience clause in Northern Ireland could have implications similar to the business and sport boycott of the state of Indiana following the introduction of similar legislation?” she asked.

 Mrs Foster emphatically rejected the claim.

“No, I don’t share her concerns at all,” she told the chamber.

“I do have to say to the member, however, that what does concern me is the number of small businesses who have approached me individually and many of my colleagues in relation to the concerns they have about the provision of services in the future (in the wake of the gay cake row).

“It is a concern she would do well, and her party would do well to acknowledge because we aren’t just interested in foreign direct investment, we are also very much interested in our indigenous companies.”

15 years after Matthew Shepard: so much achieved for gay rights, but so much more to do

I remember reading my copy of Gay Times about the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard. At the time I ended up in tears, and this evening re-reading about the murder, looking at photographs of those responsible as well as of that infamous fence in the State of Wyoming and the well known family photo of Matthew. The Matthew Shepard Foundation posted the following status on Facebook, and I feel that we should spread it wider.

1243162_595280560534122_1768961158_o“15 years ago this evening, Matthew Shepard was driven from the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming to the outskirts of the city by two strangers who did not like that he was gay. They tied him to a fence, beat him with the butt of a gun, and left him for dead.

“The Casper Star Tribune, Matthew’s hometown newspaper, ran a beautiful story of the contradictions Wyoming still has in the acceptance and treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“These contradictions parallel those at the national and international level as well. Just because same-sex couples can get married in 13 states and the District of Columbia doesn’t mean that these couples don’t have to think about their rights when they go on vacation. Or get transferred for work and move to one of the 29 states in which you can be fired for being gay, 33 for being transgender.

“While progress has been made over the last 15 years, we have a long way to go before we have true, meaningful equality.”

— Matthew Shepard Foundation Facebook page

So much achieved, yet so much still to do

So much has been achieved for gay rights across the world in the years since Matthew’s cruel death, but we have still so much to do. Fifteen years on, the same homophobia seen in Wyoming in 1998 is very much alive and well here in Northern Ireland.

  • A man had his nose broken nose during a homophobic assault on the Dublin to Belfast train between Newry and Portadown in December 2012. (Belfast Telegraph)
  • Henry McDonald wrote in the Guardian that the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland found in some research that 80% of homophobic attacks here in Northern Ireland are not reported.
  • Thug jailed for homophobic attack in Belfast gay bar reported in the Belfast Telegraph in June 2013
  • In September three men admitted the manslaughter of Andrew Lorimer in Lurgan in what is a suspected homophobic attack.
  • A drug addict took a legal high before he attacked a man and shouted homophobic abuse at him, a court heard in July 2013. (BBC News)

The cases illustrated above are those which have made it into a quick search on Google. I am sure that there have been many more homophobic incidents since this time last year. As the Police Service of Northern Ireland has said in the past,

“Hate crime is unacceptable, no one deserves to experience it and no one deserves to get away with it. To stop it, report it, do not suffer in silence.”

It is clear to me that we must continue to stand up for our rights, not just against homophobic attacks but the anti-gay policies of the DUP health minister, Edwin Poots, who seems to be leading a new crusade against our rights in his relentless appeals against decisions of the Northern Irish Courts relating to the Gay Blood Ban, and Adoption by Gay Couples.

Anyone interested in working towards full equality for all who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, please get in touch and help stand alongside our brothers and sisters in the Matthew Shepard Foundation working to ‘Erase Hate’ now.

What Does the Northern Ireland Assembly Know on Homosexuality?

A reflection of our times:

 

The City Hall in its coat of many colours

The City Hall in its coat of many colours

 

Stormont Northern Ireland

Stormont remains in its ‘vanilla’ coat

The following two motions were put forward to the Assembly in December 2012, both motions highlight just how the assembly still is failing the LGBT part of the community, because both motions have still be acted upon.

 

  • Lifting the Ban on Homosexual Men Donating Blood

That this Assembly notes that Northern Ireland is now the only region in the United Kingdom where homosexual men are banned from donating blood; further notes the findings of the report on Blood Donor Selection Criteria Review in April 2011; considers it to be unreasonable and intolerant to continue to turn away suitable donors; and calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to lift the ban and to adopt the same safeguards as those that have been implemented across the rest of the United Kingdom.

[Mr J McCallister]
[Mr S Gardiner]

 

  • Bullying in Schools

That this Assembly acknowledges the negative impacts of bullying in schools; recognises the increase in cyber bullying and the endemic nature of homophobic bullying in schools in Northern Ireland; notes that bullying is linked to an increased risk of isolation, depression, self harm and suicidal ideation among young people; calls on the Minister of Education to acknowledge the particular issue of homophobic bullying; and further calls on the Minister to develop immediately a comprehensive and wide ranging anti-bullying action plan and to begin a programme of work, with schools, to make them safe and welcoming environments for all our young people.

[Mr S Rogers]
[Mrs D Kelly]
[04 September 2012]

Notes from the Northern Ireland Assembly

An article by Eamonn McCann ‘Stormon in Dark Ages over homosexuality’, published  in the Belfast Telegraph 18 July 2013,  would seem to give further evidence towards this in a small way, but what was more enlightening was the off-the-cuff comment by the young woman at the desk of the British Museum on being told that there was little represenation of the Celts or the Ulsters Scots in the British Museum’s sumptuous collection of gay artifacts from civilisations across the globe and down the ages – “Well, they’ve always been a bit odd over there, haven’t they?”

In July 2011, Dolores Kelly said ‘…members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community must “push” to make their voice heard.

“I think they need to push hard and hold to account their political representatives,” Ms Kelly said.

“Particularly the leader of the biggest party here in the north which is of course the DUP and I think they have to be challenged on all fronts.”

Politics in Northern Ireland is not just about religion, it is about bias and ignorance on many fronts,  The LGBT community needs to organise itself and to communicate with and pursue its local and national representatives into supporting the needs of our community.  (UTV Report)

 

Just after I wrote this piece, I was forwarded an notification on the

UN Human Rights Office Launches Unprecedented Global Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality

I am attaching a copy of the document for information and look forward to our community being actively involved in delivering ‘Equality for the LGBT Community’

UN Human Rights Office Launches Unprecedented Global Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality

human rights defenderUnited Nations HUman Rights - Office of the High Commissioner

 

human-rights-not-an-option