Sinn Fein M.E.P., Martina Anderson, believes that the success of Derry’s annual gay pride parade can act as an inspiration to local people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.
Speaking at Derry’s third Foyle Pride march in Guildhall Square yesterday, Ms. Anderson commended all those who took part and said that discrimination of any kind was unacceptable.
“It is estimated that between six and 10 per cent of the population are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual – and that does not include the thousands of Transgendered peoples,” said Ms. Anderson.
“Therefore, there are around 168,500 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people living across the North – thousands of whom live in this city and district.
“The confidence and carnival atmosphere on display today sends out a powerful empowering messing to those individuals who are struggling with their own sexual orientation,” she added.
“These feelings can sometimes lead to unhealthy ways of coping, like drinking too much or taking drugs, self-harming or thinking about suicide.”
She added: “Recently I was a panellist at a Belfast Pride event and we heard powerful testimony from a mother of two children who struggled most of her adult life with her sexuality. The pain she went through, facing up to who she is, was evident in what she said - unfortunately her experience is not unique.”
Ms. Anderson went on to stress the importance of equality for L.G.B.T. and called for support to be shown to those who feel unable to be open about their sexuality.
“So while today is a day for celebration and Pride - let us send a message of solidarity and support to those unable to stand with us because of fear or concern.
“Let us work collectively challenging those who deny the application of universal rights and whose own prejudice prevent the wrongs committed against LGB&T people from being righted.
“United in this challenge we can do it,” she concluded.