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Sinn Féin challenge DUP homophobia

11 December, 2006


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights, South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane commenting on the debate in the Assembly today on the rights of people to protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual.

orientation has said that 'everyone should have the same rights and legal protections, there is no half way house - you cannot have equality for some'.

Ms Ruane said:

"Ian Paisley Senior, and Martin McGuinness, as FM/DFM Designate and Arlene and I as human rights and Equality spokespersons should all be sitting down together and working out how do we put together a comprehensive programme across the board for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Community. We should be talking about how to protect the people who are suffering homophobic attacks, and there has been an increase of 175% of reported attacks.

"Everyone should have the same rights and legal protections, there is no half way house - you cannot have equality for some.

"The DUP is using homophobia for political gain, it is attempting to whip up homophobic sentiment that leads to discrimination and violence.

"This is serious stuff - while the DUP wring their hands and say - of course we are for law and order and we abhor any crime against anyone and people should go to the police - what they fail to do is to take responsibility for

the actions that come from their words. By failing to provide leadership they are part of setting the context for the attack on the young man in a club, or park." ENDS

Full text of Speech

Ambassador Strommen at the 3rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council speaking on behalf of 54 states, including 18 members of the Human Rights Council.

"At its recent session, the United Nations Human Rights Council received extensive evidence of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including deprivation of the rights to life, freedom from violence and torture. We express deep concern at these ongoing human rights violations."

Ireland and Britain were two of the states that signed this

I welcome the fact that we are having a debate on sexual orientation but this is the wrong debate.

Ian Paisley Senior, and Martin McGuinness, as FM/DFM Designate and Arlene and I as human rights and Equality spokespersons should all be sitting down together and working out how do we put together a comprehensive programme across the board for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Community.

We should be talking about how to protect the people who are suffering homophobic attacks, and there has been an increase of 175% of reported attacks. How do we resource the organisations working for the welfare of the GLBC. How do we link with the human rights and equality sector to bring about change?

Everyone should have the same rights and legal protections, there is no half way house - you cannot have equality for some.

DUP is using homophobia for political gain, it is attempting to whip up homophobic sentiment that leads to discrimination and violence.

It is setting the context for gay bashing and human rights violations that the United Nations spoke about in its communiqué. This motion is coming from a party that has a track record on anti gay and lesbian rigthts:

In 2004 DUP Councillor Arthur Templeton was found guilty of harassment and fined after making homophobic taunts against a Council candidate. Templeton was suspended from the DUP.

In November 2005 another DUP councillor Maurice Mills shared with us other pearls of wisdom when he described Hurricane Katrina as being sent by God to punish gay and Lesbian people and to prevent the gay Southern Decadence week-end in New Orleans from going ahead.

Ian óg obviously not wanting to be outdone said (in relation to the gay marriage of former UUP adviser Stephen King ) said "Most people in North of Ireland find homosexual relationships offensive and indeed obnoxious and I say that from the position of research that I have done"

This is serious stuff - while the DUP wring their hands and say - of course we are for law and order and we abhor any crime against anyone and people should go to the police - what they fail to do is to take responsibility for the actions that come from their words. By failing to provide leadership they are part of setting the context for the attack on the young man in a club, or park.

Martin Luther King said : "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere".

They can dress it up in fancy words and provide smokescreens claiming it is better if it is brought to Stormont rather than Westminister - the real issue here is that there should be no delay in bringing legislation forward - the GLBT community are protected in the South of Ireland and this legislation will provide protection for GLBT community here in the North of Ireland. That is to be welcomed and there should be no delay.

What are the effects of this gay bashing - The findings of every reputable research carried out into the effects of homophobia show that the gay community is disproportionally affected by suicide and self harm. Ireland has one of the highest incidences of suicide in Europe. The next time Jeffrey, George go to a wake of a young man (who may or may not have been gay) was in such agony that he chose to take his own life examine your consciences and ask yourself did you say or do anything that contributed to that despair. And that person could be any of our children - yours or mine.

It is a poor excuse for any politicians to say they are defending the rights of Christians to discriminate. Firstly there are many Christians who support this legislation - and who do not believe in discrimination.

There is also a lot of hysteria and misinformation about this legislation

Opponents claim the legislation will:

Force primary schools to actively promote Homosexual civil partnerships to children from primary school age to the same degree they teach the importance of marriage.

Force a printing shop run by a Christian to print fliers promoting gay sex

Force a family run B+B to let out a double room to a transsexual couple, even if the family think it is in the best interests of their children to refuse to allow such a situation in their own home.

Let's debunk some of those myths :

Printers won't be forced to print flyers promoting gay sex or any other kind of sex, they'll simply not be allowed to hang a "no gays served here sign"

Regulation 9 simply prohibits educational establishments from refusing to accept students on grounds of their sexual orientation.

Regulation (7) (2) (a) states that anyone providing accomation such as a b+b is exempt if the "relevant occupies resides and continues to reside on the premises".

I would like to pay tribute to the Gay and Lesbian community for their courage and bravery in standing up for their rights and to the other groups who are supporting them. I call on all other groups fighting for rights to stand alongside them.

This motion is part of yesterday's agenda, part of the bad old days of the past. Move on - show leadership. Days of second class citizenship and hiding our identities are gone.

Take a good look at yourselves - what does your gay son or brother or lesbian daughter or sister think about you now. Don't comdemn them to a lifetime of silence and despair.

Arlene - how does this motion fit into your equality brief.

DUP talk a lot about law and order and respect for the law - are you going to uphold S75 and this law when it comes in in January? Or is your support for law and order selective and only "your law and order"

So lets move from the dark ages into the light of the 21 century - there is no room for discrimination in this century and where it happens we should challenge it - no one suffering discrimination should stand alone. The people who should stand alone are the discriminators.

Now I don't know about the rest of you but I think I would give more credit to an Independent Mori poll than Ian's or indeed Maurice Mills wonderful research.

A recent Mori poll asked people here (1100 people) if they believed it was right for business to discriminate against GLB people. 88% said no - and it also shows that attitudes among young people are the most progressive in terms of gay rights. So your gay bashing is not even a vote winner. Don't dig a hole for yourself - get out of this hole and join with the rest of us in supporting anti discrimination legislation which protects everyone. You never know when you might need it.

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