‘Stand together against intolerance’

John O'Doherty, Director of the Rainbow Project.
John O'Doherty, Director of the Rainbow Project.

A local gay rights activist is urging people to “stand together and speak with one voice” against homophobia.

John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, spoke out as events celebrating Anti-Homophobia Week (May 14-20) kicked off across the North.

The week-long series of events coincide with International Day of Action Against Homophobia which takes place on May 17.

To mark Anti-Homophobia Week, the Rainbow Project, supported by the Public Health Agency, has organised a mobile billboard which will travel across Northern Ireland throughout the week.

The mobile billboard will be at Guildhall Square today between 12 noon and 3pm.

John O’Doherty, who’s from Derry, said Anti-Homophobia Week provided “a unique opportunity for all us to stand together and speak with one voice against intolerance and homophobia in our society.”

He added: “ We all hear homophobia in our everyday lives, whether it is on TV, in our place of work or from our friends and family. Anti-Homophobia Week is an opportunity for everyone to take time to consider the impact of their actions and the actions of people around them towards minority groups within our society.

“This year we will have volunteers out on the streets of Belfast and Derry to bring our message to as many people as possible.

“In addition to this, the mobile billboard, supported by the Public Health Agency, will be travelling the length and breadth of Northern Ireland with the message: ‘Homophobia has no place in a civilised society’. Each of us has a role in eradicating this blight on our society and we all must play our part.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue said more needed to be done to tackle homophobia and everyone had a responsibility to face down the “scourge of homophobia.”

“These are hate crimes, on a par with sectarianism and racism, and they need to be denounced by all of us,” she said.

“Our priority in this new dispensation is to change all of that.

“We are determined to build a shared and better future where all of our people are cherished.”