Spirit of Civil Rights needed to achieve LGBT equality rights

A previous Foyle Pride parade in Derry.
A previous Foyle Pride parade in Derry.

SDLP MLA, Mark H Durkan, has said the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement is needed to progress LGBT rights across these islands, stressing that discrimination the community face goes far beyond the denial of civil liberties.

Mr Durkan said that not only does 2019 mark the 50th year since the birth of the Civil Rights Movement here, but also 50 years of the global fight for gay rights. “LGBT history month is a time to reflect on how far society has come but also how far Northern Ireland has yet to go in regards to LGBT rights,” Mr Durkan said.

“I met with Transgender NI this week to discuss the challenges faced by transgender people here in particular.

“Incidentally, it is glaringly obvious that more must be done to address the critical need for support and advocacy for the LGBT community.

“Discrimination of this community goes far beyond the denial of civil marriage rights- it filters through all sectors of society, including difficulties accessing healthcare specialists among other health inequalities.

“Where individuals are much more likely to experience complex needs and long term conditions as a result of abuse patterns related to sustained homophobia.”

He added: “It is important to acknowledge that the fight for equality is ongoing, change still needs to happen and that begins by increasing awareness and educating others about LGBT issues. A progressive society must be a society that works for all its citizens.”

Meanwhile, Amnesty International recently welcomed a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report calling for all British Overseas Territories to legalise same-sex marriage, and for the government to legislate if they fail to act. Amnesty has called on the government to apply the same principle to the UK itself by legislating without further delay for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Patrick Corrigan, NI Programme Director of Amnesty International, said: “We call on the Government to extend legislation for same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland without further delay.”