Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Rise in racist and homophobic attacks demand collective response

23 May, 2005

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on racism, South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey has said that the latest figures on both racist and homophobic attacks demand a collective response.

Mr Maskey said:

"The figures published today only account for recorded crime. It is only the tip of the iceberg. An increase in the number of racial incidents of nearly 80% should send out a very clear message that we are not doing enough to combat racist attitudes in our society.

"During the last 12 months the number of homophobic incidents has increased by over 175%.

"The evidence of increasing number of incident driven by intolerance and bigotry demands a collective response.

"It is important that people from across the six counties stand together to make it clear to the racists and bigots that their actions are wrong and that they must stop immediately. But we need to do more than speak words of condemnation, as political leaders we must provide practical assistance to people who are targeted and we need to actively work to challenge attitudes within our communities.

"Just as the ethnic minority community in Belfast and beyond are part of the fabric of our society and must be defended and protected, so must the role of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our society be recognised, defended and protected. The rights and entitlements of all citizens must be upheld and all people must be allowed to live their lives in peace without the threat of racist or homophobic attack or abuse.

"All of us in political leadership have a duty and an obligation to stand up against the racists and the bigots who have been engaged in an organised campaign of intimidation against ethnic minority communities.

"It is also important that there are resources available to provide a practical response on the ground in communities where this is a major problem.

"Everyone has a role to play in challenging racism yet the failure to put in place proper resources will only undermine the efforts of those working on the ground to root out ingrained racist and intolerant attitudes. Racism and homophobia impacts on the daily lives of people who are a vital part of the rich social fabric of our society." ENDS

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