'Homophobic' Derry not true picture - Rainbow Project
An American newspaper article branding Derry as increasingly homophobic has been criticised by one of the city's leading gay rights campaigners.
The article, published last week in a leading US newspaper, spoke of a "disturbing rise" in anti-gay violence in North's second-largest city.
Interviewing one local man who was assaulted, the piece also claimed that since the beginning of 2010, homosexuals have fallen victim to at least 20 attacks in and around Derry, compared with nine such incidents in all of 2009.
Describing the recent surge as "a spate of gay bashings", the article could irreparably damage Derry's international reputation.
Indeed, one comment attached to the story reads: “One more reason not to visit Northern Ireland. It's a relatively uncivilised place, compared with England or France.”
However, David McCartney from the Rainbow Project insists that the reporter in question put a negative slant on what was, essentially, a positive story about changing attitudes towards homosexuality in the city.
Mr McCartney told the 'Journal': "It is true that there was an unusual spike in attacks around the beginning of the summer, and the only potential link we could think of was that there is an increase in alcohol-related events in the summer. However, I don't think this is reflective of the underlying trend in the city. Once that isolated spike is removed, statistics show that there has definitely been a downwards trend in homophobic activity here."
He went on: "The story we told was quite clear - we wanted to get across how much things have improved in our own lifetimes. We wanted to point out the positive comparisons here since I first came out, and the success of the different approaches we have adopted in involving the police and the church in tackling homophobia."
Mr McCartney added: "This man was told true and accurate reflections of people's experiences, but he has clearly missed the big picture and the change that has taken place. That's the big story."
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Friday 24 May 2013
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